Clear Skies vs. Clean Air Act. This should be a no-brainer but for those of you who are skeptical, I digress.
First of all, get the comparison chart here in case things get confusing. They did for me and it helped to have a simple visual. The problem with this plan (besides allowing more pollution for industry) is that the Clear Skies initiative is a 2-step program that has an OPTIONAL second step. So its like asking a professional athlete if he wouldn't mind a $1.5 million dollar signing bonus. Do we think industry will take advantage of this? Of course!
The Clean Air Act(CAA) requires the nation to cut emissions, specifically with 3 incredibly toxic substances: sulfur-dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury. The Clear Skies (CS) program does as well, just not as much. CAA states that national mercury emissions must drop by 5 tons per year through 2008. Thus far, we've managed to that. This means that between 2004 and 2008 we will have cut mercury emissions by 20 tons (5 tons x 4 years). The CS program sets the high bar at 26 tons by 2012, which is only 6 tons more but in a span of 8 years, not 4. If we stuck with the current CAA we could cut mercury emissions by 40 tons by 2012, much more than the 26 GWB is gunning for.
Sulfur dioxide has a similar issue. The CAA sets the SO2 cap at 2 mil. tons of by 2012. The CS program requests the cap to be raised to 4 mil. tons of SO2 by 2010. So we're DOUBLING our SO2 caps in almost half the time.
Nitrogen oxides: CAA sets the cap at 1.25 mil tons by 2010. GWB's Clear Skies Initiative sets it at 2.7 mil tons by 2018. Ok, so now we're giving industry the ok to put MORE pollution in our air AND making sure they have another 12 years to do it in. Huh? This is ridiculous.
To actually sell this as a "Clear Skies Plan" is truly amazing. I really hope it doesn't take a global-warming-triggered tsunmai or earthquake that hits LA or DC to wake these idiots up.