Proposed Clean Air Act reform draws fire



A Congressional hearing on the accomplishments of the U.S. Clean Air Act and subsequent amendments turned into a squabble about whether Bush administration efforts to reform the act would improve or undermine air quality regulations.

At the 1 May hearing of the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, a key sticking point concerned whether an emissions “cap-and-trade” program, which was proposed as part of President George W. Bush's 14 February Clear Skies initiative, would effectively meet air quality standards. The program would provide market-based incentives to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury. Another point of contention was whether such a program would make some current regulations, including new source review of upgraded utility plants, redundant and unnecessary.