Bush's clean air plan stalls in the Senate

March 2, 2005 at 6:44 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- Senate GOP leaders continue to be unable to get the votes needed to move President Bush's "Clear skies" air quality plan through committee.

Senate Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe, R-Olka., canceled a planned mark-up of the measure for the second time Wednesday, unable to find the single voted needed to push the plan to the Senate floor for a vote.

Although there are several sticking points, whether to included mandatory limits on carbon dioxide omissions from industrial facilities is the major issue. Such limits are not included in the measure, but several lawmakers on the panel want them, including ranking Democrat Thomas Carper of Delaware, and Sen. Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island, the lone Republican on the panel to not endorse Bush's proposal.

Under the proposal, emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury from electric power generation would be capped at approximately 70% below 2000 levels.

But critics of the plan say the business-friendly approach amounts to a rollback of existing clean air laws.

Carper and Clean Air Subcommittee chairman George Voinovich, R-Ohio, have been tasked with finding a bipartisan compromise on the issue, but it remains unclear if one can be found in time for a planned Thursday mark-up, or if the measure will be further delayed.

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