PDF _ RL31779 - Air Quality: Multi-Pollutant Legislation in the 108th Congress
17-Nov-2003; Larry Parker and John Blodgett; 13 p.

Update: February 14, 2005

Abstract: With the prospect of new layers of complexity being added to air pollution controls and with electricity restructuring putting a premium on economic efficiency, interest is being expressed in finding mechanisms to achieve health and environmental goals in simpler, more cost-effective ways. The electric utility industry is a major source of air pollution, particularly sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury (Hg), as well as suspected greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). At issue is whether a new approach to environmental protection could achieve the Nation?s air quality goals more cost-effectively than the current system.

One approach being proposed is a ?multi-pollutant? strategy ? a framework based on a consistent set of emissions caps, implemented through emissions trading. Just how the proposed approach would fit with the current (and proposed) diverse regulatory regimes remains to be worked out; they might be replaced to the greatest extent feasible, or they might be overlaid by the framework of emissions caps.

In February 2002, the Bush Administration announced two air quality initiatives. The first, ?Clear Skies,? would amend the Clean Air Act to place emission caps on electric utility emissions of SO2, NOx, and Hg. Implemented through a tradeable allowance program, the emissions caps would generally be imposed in two phases: 2008 and 2018. The second initiative begins a voluntary greenhouse gas reduction program. This plan, rather than capping CO2 emissions, focuses on improving the carbon efficiency of the economy, reducing current emissions of 183 metric tons per million dollars of GDP to 151 metric tons per million dollars of GDP in 2012.

In the 108th Congress, eight bills have been introduced that would impose multipollutant controls on utilities. Two of the bills, H.R. 999/S. 485, are the Administration?s three-pollutant proposal, and two other bills, H.R. 203 and S. 1844, are modified versions of the Administration?s proposal. The other four bills are fourpollutant proposals that include carbon dioxide. S. 366, is similar to a bill reported by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the 107th Congress while S. 843 and H.R. 3093 are modified versions of S. 3135 introduced in the 107th Congress . Likewise, H.R. 2042 is similar to H.R. 1256 introduced in the 107th Congress. All of these bills involve some form of emission caps, typically taking place in 2008-2009; and most include a tradeable credit program to implement that cap. The provisions concerning SO2, NOx, and Hg in S. 366, H.R. 203, S. 843, H.R. 2042, and H.R. 3093 are generally more stringent and take effect earlier than the comparable provisions of H.R. 999/S. 485 and S. 1844. S. 366, S. 843, H.R. 2042, and H.R. 3093 would cap emissions of CO2. It is difficult to compare those CO2 caps to the Administration?s proposal concerning CO2 ? both because the Administration?s proposal is voluntary rather than mandatory and because it is broader (covering all greenhouse gas emissions rather than just utility CO2 emissions). However, it appears that actual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would be higher under the Administration?s proposal than those allowed by these bills. This report will be updated as warranted.

 [read report]

Topics: Air, Legislative

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