Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Spitzer Not Afraid to Lead on Environmental Issues

From the Washington Post:
States like California and New York traditionally have been activist regulators, but now "model rules" developed by state associations and individual initiatives are being pursued throughout the country.

"We have a mantra. Where the federal government is unable or unwilling to address an important air pollution problem, the states and localities will step in and fill that gap," said S. William Becker , executive director of state and local air pollution associations.

Becker's group is working on a model rule to curb mercury emissions from power plants because it thinks the recently issued federal mercury rule is weak and takes too long to implement. It also developed a "menu" of alternatives that states can use to beef up changes the Environmental Protection Agency made to address how expanded industrial facilities must control their pollution. And it has a model rule -- which nine states have adopted -- for states to reduce truck diesel emissions.

In another initiative, nine Northeast and mid-Atlantic states have banded together to form the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to address global warming by using a state trading system to control emissions.

"We need to protect our citizens and forests," said Peter Lehner, chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau for Eliot Spitzer's office. Lehner said the federal government has not acted to adequately regulate interstate transport of pollutants, so Spitzer has sued six New York power plants and 22 out-of-state facilities.

Becker said the Clean Air Act allows states to set standards of their own, but, in some cases, the Bush administration has tried to limit the effect states can have regulating industry. He said the administration's Clear Skies Initiative, which didn't pass, would have preempted states from taking action against industry. [WaPo]


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