Statement Of Ny State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer On Relaxing Enforcement Of Federal Clean Air Act

Today's "Washington Post" reports that EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman is expected to recommend relaxing the enforcement of the federal Clean Air Act. This would be a grave mistake that would jeopardize air quality across the nation, particularly in New York State and the entire Northeast.

Two years ago, my office, along with the federal government and Attorneys General from seven other states took enforcement action against coal burning power plants that were violating the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act. The law requires new power plants to install modern pollution control equipment when they are built. It also requires older plants to install similar equipment when they undergo major upgrades that extend their useful lifespan or increase their ability to generate power. Since the New Source Review provision took effect in 1977, scores of power plants have undergone major upgrades without making the required improvements in air pollution controls. This has resulted in millions of tons of unnecessary pollution fouling our air, harming public health and the environment.

I urge President Bush and EPA Administrator Whitman to maintain the federal government's legal requirement to effectively enforce the Clean Air Act. I reject the false trade-off that strong environmental protection stifles energy production. A balanced approach to meeting our nation's energy demands does not require us to accept added asthma attacks and devastated forests, lakes and ponds ravaged by acid rain. A sound economy and a sound environment go hand in hand.