14 March 2005 18:01 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--The American Chemistry Council (ACC) on Monday welcomed a new US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalisation clean air rule but was disappointed that a Senate committee did not approve the Bush administration’s “Clear Skies” legislation.
ACC said EPA's interstate rule represents “an innovative regulatory approach to meeting strict environmental requirements that also will help slow electric utilities' fuel switching from coal to natural gas.”
The rule would cut sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NO) emissions by 70% in the eastern half of the country by 2015. It would reduce SO2 emissions in 28 eastern states by more than 70% and NO emissions by more than 60%, compared with 2003 levels. ?xml:namespace>
EPA said the rule would result in more than $100bn (Euro74.8bn)/year in health and visibility benefits by 2015
However, ACC expressed concern that legal challenges to the new rule and an upcoming mercury reduction initiative “will create continued regulatory uncertainty that may prompt increased demand for natural gas by utilities, thereby exacerbating already high, volatile natural gas prices.”
Chemical makers use natural gas both as a fuel and as a raw material.
"ACC continues to believe that Clear Skies legislation would be a more efficient, effective long-term mechanism to achieve significant nationwide emissions reductions while maintaining a diverse national fuel supply,” the group said.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee deadlocked on the bill last week, voting 9-9 after opponents argued it would undermine the Clean Air Act and do nothing about carbon dioxide, which many scientists believe is a major contributor to global warming.
Bryan Brendle, director of air quality for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said industry’s biggest concern is the “incessant and hugely expensive litigation that mires air quality regulation in confusion and uncertainty.”
He said: “Clear cut and less-readily litigated legislation is the preferable way to address our environmental challenges and manufacturers are very disappointed with a handful of lawmakers who stubbornly refused to put the public good over politics” and failed to support the Clear Skies legislation.
“Nonetheless, the clean air interstate rule should help clarify and streamline a contradictory and overlapping mess of existing regulations that plague industry and regulators,” said Brendle.
He continued: “Business planners need such certainty and flexibility when considering investments in technological upgrades that further clean our air, improve efficiency and boost economic growth.”
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