Cleaning the Air

America's air is the cleanest it has been in thirty years, with the six leading emissions, including sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, down 51%. In 2003, emissions were down 7.8% since President Bush took office.

President Bush has proposed many wide-reaching measures to further reduce air pollution and protect public health.

The nonroad diesel rule will cut sulfur emissions from 3,400 parts per million today to 15 ppm, a 99% reduction, by 2010 from diesel engines used in agricultural, construction, and industrial equipment.
  • Emissions of soot and nitrogen oxide will be reduced over 90%..
  • The nonroad diesel rule will prevent 12,000 premature deaths and eliminate 280,000 respiratory attacks in children annually.
  • The rule will significantly help metropolitan areas reduce smog and ozone, and enable them to reach EPA-set attainment standards on ozone and particulate matter.

"When it becomes law, Governor Whitman's bold proposal will be the biggest public health step since lead was removed from gasoline more than two decades ago."
Richard Kassel, Natural Resources Defense Council.

The President's proposed Clear Skies Initiative will cut sulfur dioxide emissions 73%, nitrogen oxide emissions 67%, and mercury emissions 69% from power plants by 2018.
  • The Initiative calls for the use of the cap-and-trade method that allows companies to be innovative and flexible while curbing pollution and had a successful track record curbing sulfur dioxide in the 1990s.
  • Further, the Initiative calls for $50 billion to be invested in pollution controls in over 1,000 power plants

The Clean Air Interstate Rule will require coal-burning power plants to drastically cut emissions to reduce pollution and haze in downwind states. Sulfur dioxide (SOx) emissions, which also can contribute to acid rain, will be cut by almost 70% and nitrogen oxide (NOx) will be cut by 65% by 2015 in 29 states, particularly on the eastern states that are downwind from many midwestern power plants. These are the steepest emission cuts in more than a decade.

The Bush Administration put in place new guidelines on power plants, known as New Source Review, to enable companies to make major modifications and reduce emissions. These guideline improvements will remove regulatory obstacles and encourage the modernization of facilities and investments in new technologies. The programs includes:
  • Incentives for environmentally beneficial pollution control and prevention projects.
  • Clean unit provisions, to encourage the use of the best available technology; establishing actual emissions baselines
  • Plantwide Applicability Limits (PALs), stringent pollution caps that encourage modernization and provide operating flexibility.
  • Further, new initiatives to address routine maintenance, repair and replacement, debottlenecking, and aggregation are being put forward.

In February 2003, President Bush announced a plan to develop and construct a new zero-emissions power plant. The FutureGen Project is a $1 billion, ten-year venture to create a coal-fired power plant that will create hydrogen for other uses, such as hydrogen powered vehicles, as well as electricity, while releasing no air pollution. Through public-private partnerships, advanced technology, such as gasification, will be used to convert the coal to energy and hydrogen, while capturing and storing all emissions and greenhouse gases.

The Bush Administration launched a $1.7 billion initiative to develop environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel cells for as power sources for vehicles, homes and businesses. The hydrogen fuel initiative and the FreedomCar initiative are the first to form partnerships with private businesses to develop affordable hydrogen-powered vehicles and the necessary infrastructure. Hydrogen fuel cells release no air pollutants and will reduce the nation's dependence on foreign sources of oil.