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SEPTEMBER 15, 1998    9:00 AM
CONTACT: Clean Air Trust
Frank O'Donnell 202-785-9625
Clean Air Trust Warns Coal, Power Companies Seek to Thwart EPA Clean-Air Plan
WASHINGTON - September 15 - Seeking to take advantage of perceived weakness at the White House, some coal and electric power companies are making a last-ditch effort to thwart a major EPA smog clean up plan, the non-profit Clean Air Trust warned today. Ironically, the political muscle is being applied even as evidence is mounting that the cleanup is needed to meet health standards throughout the East and Midwest.

Last Friday, EPA Administrator Carol Browner was visited by a congressional delegation from the Southeast and Midwest. With arguments scripted by coal and power company lobbyists, the legislators sought to pressure Browner to abandon the EPA cleanup strategy in favor of a less comprehensive plan devised with the help of polluters. Thirteen senators, led by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.VA) have urged Browner in writing to back down.

EPA has proposed a major reduction in smog-forming nitrogenoxides (NOx) pollution from 22 Eastern states. Most of the reduction is expected from coal-fired electric power plants.

The polluter push comes against a backdrop of dirty air: Literally every one of the 22 affected states has seen smog levels this summer above federal health standards. EPA believes its cleanup strategy is needed to meet the health standards in future years.

Indeed, a recent analysis by the Ozone Attainment Coalition (an alliance of Northeastern businesses and environmentalists) shows how far short the rival strategy crafted by polluters would be. The polluter alternative would permit nearly three times as many smog-forming NOx emissions in 2007 as the EPA proposal. And since the polluter plan sets no overall ceiling on pollution, the results could become even worse.

"If the polluter plan prevails, it means that residents of such states as South Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky could continue to breathe dirty air a decade from now," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust.

O'Donnell noted that recent innovations suggest the EPA cleanup could be achieved at a fraction of the cost estimated by the polluters. He pointed to recent experience with cyclone boilers at power companies in New Jersey and Missouri, which cleansed emissions simply by redirecting the flow of oxygen into the boiler.

This technique "was not only effective, but dirt cheap," said O'Donnell. "This experience under cuts the scare tactics employed by the polluters." He said the so-called "overfire air" process likely could be used at other dozens of other power companies as well.

EPA is expected to announce a final decision within about week.




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