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By: Matthew Preira

As the economy steadily plummets, the Bush Administration has already begun working on a new way to make the lives of the American public even more awful. Yes, yes…it’s true…there’s still something left for Bush II and all his father’s old friends to screw up.

It’s called the Clear Skies Initiative. With a name like the Clear Skies Initiative, you would never have any idea of the damage to both the health of the American people and the environment the Bush Administration is proposing in the name of big business. The Clear Skies Initiative was proposed to amend the Clean Air Act, the primary federal law governing air quality. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Clear Skies Initiative would reset the restrictions of toxic air pollutants, allowing three times more toxic mercury emissions, 50 percent more sulfur emissions, and hundreds of thousands more tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides. Relaxing environmental restrictions placed on modernizing power plants, refineries, and factories has been the first step taken to cut the costs of industries while significantly polluting our air.

At the end of August, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that plants updating their equipment are exempt from taking the measures to install antipollution controls. The new law is a major step backwards from the pro-public interest “Clean Air Act,” when put in place will set strict rules and regulations regarding harmful emissions (one of which requiring factories to install antipollution technology whenever going through a period of upgrade).

Under the “special-interest friendly” (READ: for the benefit of wealthy corporations who want to blacken your lungs) “Clear Skies” Initiative, environmental restrictions will be slashed left and right.

Mercury is a highly harmful element, which can cause neurological problems and retardation for young children and fetuses of pregnant mothers. In 2002, the EPA listed two million acres of lakes and the entire Florida coastline under mercury fish consumption advisories. The advisories warned residents to limit the fish they eat if they are caught locally. What does the Bush Administration want to do about this? Increase the amount of Mercury emitted into our air times five!

The Bush Administration’s Clear Skies Initiative will more than double soot-forming sulfur emissions from power plants, regardless of studies showing these types of emissions take years off lives by weakening the hearts and lungs of those who breathe them in.

If the Bush Administration gets what they want, emissions of smog-forming nitrogen, which cause an estimated 400,000 asthma attacks and send more than 12,000 Floridians a year to the emergency room, will stay as high as 2.1 million tons per year through 2018.

On second glance, the Clear Skies Initiative does very little to “clear” anything other than a few digits off a factory’s monthly bill that is.

Use the websites listed below to contact your state representative and tell them you won’t stand to suffer so polluters can save money. The people “in charge” of the Initiative are actually state representatives in the House and the Senate who will be voting on it. Those are the best people to contact. Place a call, write an email, have all of your family members do the same, and hopefully the members of Congress would represent the interests of individuals they were elected by (YOU! THE PERSON NEXT TO YOU! YOUR FAMILY!), rather than those of Big Industries.

To find your state representatives in the House of Representatives go to:

To find your state representatives in the senate go to:

Information used in the article regarding the Bush Administration’s specific rollbacks was taken from FloridaPIRG
official web fact sheet at:

Visit the Natural Resources Defense Council’s webpage at:

For information about the mercury advisories visit the Marine Resources Council’s Website at:

To read about the mercury advisories, click here:

0 0 183 11 December, 2003 Green, Health, News December 11, 2003

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