Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding The Bush Administration's Energy Plan

There is a critical need for our nation to develop an energy policy that is balanced and forward-looking, but the Bush Administration's energy plan falls far short of this mark. The key problem with the plan is that it seems to conclude that because we have energy problems, we cannot continue to make progress in improving the environment.

This approach is not in New York's or the nation's long-term interest.

There is a need for additional power generating capacity. One of the key findings of my recent energy report was that we should build cleaner and more efficient power plants and do so quickly. But it is equally clear to me that we should improve and expand conservation efforts. In fact, conservation can provide immediate and sustainable energy savings that will help avoid the spread of problems like those in California. The Bush plan includes only token conservation and efficiency measures.

The plan virtually ignores renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and the development of new energy technology, including fuel cells. These are essential components of what I would regard as a truly balanced and visionary energy plan, but these are missing in the Bush plan.

By far the most troubling aspect of this plan is the proposed weakening of Clear Air Act enforcement by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the directive that clean air lawsuits against mid-western power plants be "reviewed."

With this directive, the federal government is threatening to withdraw from the clean air lawsuits begun by my office against mid-western power plants. We cannot allow this to happen.

The scuttling of the clean air lawsuits would lead to millions more tons of air pollution being discharged from power plants, damaging the environment and harming public health particularly in New York and the northeastern states.

Modern technology can reduce pollution levels by 95 percent or more at these coal-fired plants, without reducing energy production. The Bush administration would ignore these benefits, and give dirty old plants a windfall that I believe violates federal law.

It is imperative that the Environmental Protection Agency live up to its name and its past record and not retreat from enforcement of clean air statutes or from the landmark clear air lawsuits. My hope and expectation is that the EPA and Department of Justice will remain steadfast in vigorously enforcing the Clean Air Act and in pressing forward with the lawsuits. But even if the administration decides to abandon this effort, my office will continue actions against coal burning power plants that pollute New York's air and acidify its lakes.

In addition, I will continue to urge federal officials to develop a more balanced energy plan that includes greater conservation and other efficiency initiatives.