US Senate panel to tighten power plant emissions
WASHINGTON - Congress can spur development of new clean air technology with legislation tightening the limits on power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and carbon dioxide, a prominent backer said yesterday.
A \"mark up\" session on the so-called four pollutant bill was expected on Feb. 12 in the Senate Environment Committee.
Co-sponsor Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, said he and committee chairman Jim Jeffords, a Vermont independent, wanted to move the bill as far and as quickly as possible.
\"Our feeling is if we set a cap (on carbon dioxide), we will drive the technologies,\" that would make generation of electricity more efficient and avert large rate increases, Lieberman said at a subcommittee hearing.
Ohio Republican George Voinovich said the Jeffords bill \"will mean the end of coal as a viable fuel.\" Utilities would switch to natural gas, he said, rather than face the expense of installing expensive new pollution control equipment.
\"Coal can be part of the solution,\" Lieberman responded.
\"The administration strongly opposes including reductions for carbon dioxide in S.556 (the Jeffords bill) or any multi-pollutant bill,\" said Robert Kripowicz, acting assistant energy secretary.
Demands for \"sharp reductions\" in carbon dioxide from electric plants \"would cause a dramatic shift from coal to natural gas and thus run the risk of endangering national energy security, substantially increasing energy prices and harming consumers,\" Kripowicz said.
The administration prefers a \"three pollutant\" approach covering emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury.
It also supports research on cleaner-burning coal. Utilities account for one-third of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.
Subcommittee members heard from developers of new equipment to reduce power-plant emissions at competitive costs and from Richard Sandor, developer of a proposed clearing house to trade credits for reductions in greenhouse gases. Sandor said the history of a similar program to reduce acid rain suggested the costs of control could be much lower than thought.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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