New clean air rules in US

Jul 14, 1997 02:00 AM

June 25, 1997 President Clinton announced recently tough new U.S. air pollution controls. Speaking in Nashville, Tennessee, Clinton said he had decided to proceed with proposed new controls on soot and smog that have been hailed by U.S. environmental and health groups but blasted by industry and local government.
"I approved some very strong new regulations today that will be somewhat controversial. But I think kids ought to be healthy," Clinton told a family values conference. "We think if we have high standards for protecting the environment, but we're flexible in how those standards are implemented ... that we can protect the environment and grow the economy," he said.
The key architect of the plan, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner, said at the White House that the new rules amounted to "a major step forward for protecting the public health of the people of this country." The White House said the new standards would prevent about 15,000 premature deaths each year from air pollution.
Congress will have 60 days to review the standards, which would be implemented for smog beginning in 2004 and for soot probably at some later date, and may attempt to overturn them.
Under the plan, major producers of smog and soot such as big power plants would be required to reduce their emissions, and areas violating the rules could be severely punished. Environmental and health advocates praised the decision as a victory for public health and clean air. "Bill Clinton and (Vice President) Al Gore have obviously made the decision to protect the five million American children who suffer from asthma from pollution in our air," said Kathryn Hohmann, a Sierra Club official. But the plan faces fierce opposition from powerful business and local government groups, including many politicians from Clinton's own Democratic Party.
Though lawmakers in the House opposed to the new limits said they could secure enough votes to overturn it, environmentalists said Congress would be hard-pressed to vote against protecting the health of children and seniors. The U.S. Conference of Mayors voted in San Francisco to opposed the stiff new standards, saying they would be so costly they could kill investment in local economies. In a bid to mollify such critics, the White House said the plan would allow polluters several years to comply. "Those that have opposed the higher standards, I want to just tell you -- read the implementation schedule, work with us. We will find a way to do this ... that grows the American economy," Clinton said. But industry groups angrily rejected the schedule.

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