Three Pollutant Legislation: Very Much In Play?

A few weeks ago, I queried whether three pollutant legislation might be back in play, particularly given the current rough sledding for broad climate change legislation. Now, it certainly appears that way. The bill has been formally introduced. In addition to Alexander, there are now three other GOP co-sponsors (Gregg, Graham, and Snowe), not including Senator Lieberman, who is also a sponsor. There will be a hearing on March 4.

The basic provisions are as follows:

Reduction in SO2 emissions of 80% by 2018

Statutory authorization of the CAIR rule through 2011

Reduction in NOx emissions of 53% by 2015

Reduction in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants of 90% by 2015.

I still don’t have a crystal ball on the likelihood that this bill will move, but there are certainly a number of reasons why it might. Uncertainty about the CAIR rule motivates a number of sources to prefer a legislative solution. The difficulties in moving the climate change legislation make a bipartisan agreement on three pollutant legislation attractive to both sides of the aisle. We’ll know more after the hearing, but the Ozone Transport Commission has already criticized the NOx provisions as insufficiently stringent, which I take as a good sign for the bill’s prospects.

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