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Letter to Senate Colleagues

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today he will vote against Senator Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) effort to overturn a clean-air rule designed to limit the blowing of power-plant pollution across state lines, and will introduce his own bill with Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to enact the rule in a way that "will clean the air at the lowest possible cost to ratepayers."

"Tennesseans admire much about our Kentucky neighbors--their bluegrass, basketball and distinguished United States Senators," Alexander said, "But we don't want Kentucky's state income tax. And we don't want Kentucky's dirty air. And North Carolina residents have made it perfectly clear through their lawsuits that they don't want Tennessee's dirty air blowing into their state."

Alexander continued: "Air pollution blowing in from other states makes our citizens sick, especially children and older Tennesseans. It is also a jobs issue--pollution makes our mountains smoggy, driving away tourists, and it makes it harder for communities to secure the air-quality permits that allow the location of auto suppliers and other manufacturing jobs."

A Senate vote is expected Thursday on Paul's effort to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule altogether. Alexander said that overturning the clean-air rule will "throw the matter back to regulators, lawsuits, courts and confusion."

Alexander and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor will introduce today what they call "a better approach": to enact the proposed rule into law but give utilities one additional year to implement it.

In a letter to their Senate colleagues, Senators Alexander and Pryor said: "We often hear that it is the job of Congress, not the bureaucrats and courts, to set clean-air rules. Our common-sense legislation is an opportunity for Congress to do its job in a way that will clean the air at the lowest possible cost to ratepayers.

"The Bush Administration in 2005 first put in place a rule that is the predecessor to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule on which we will be voting. Federal courts found the Bush rule flawed in some technical respects and ordered the EPA to write the one which some now seek to overturn under the Congressional Review Act.

"So this clean-air rule has been in place for six years. Many utilities have taken steps to comply with it. The pollution standards of the amended rule are about the same as those established in 2005 by the Bush rule. As an example of costs, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest public utility, tells us that complying with the amended rule will costs its ratepayers between $1 and $2 a month."

The complete text of the senators' letter to their colleagues in the Senate is below:

November 7, 2011

Dear Colleague,

Later this week, the Senate will vote on a resolution to disapprove a Clean Air Act rule designed to limit the blowing of power plant pollution from one state to the next. Overturning the rule would throw the matter back to regulators, lawsuits, courts, and delay.

We are writing to invite you to join us in bi-partisan legislation that provides a better approach: enact the clean air rule into law, but give utilities one additional year to comply with it. Our approach would provide certainty and cleaner air at the lowest possible cost to ratepayers.

In 2005, the Bush Administration first put in place the predecessor to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule which we will be voting on this week. Federal courts found the Bush rule was flawed in some technical respects and ordered the EPA to write a new rule which some now seek to overturn under the Congressional Review Act.

The Bush clean air rule has been in place for six years. Many utilities have already taken steps to comply with it. The pollution standards in the new rule are about the same as those established in 2005 by the Bush rule. As an example of costs, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest public utility, tells us that complying with the new rule will costs its ratepayers between $1 and $2 a month.

When soot and nitrogen oxide (which creates ozone) from power plants blow from one state into another they make the air unhealthy, especially for children and older citizens. The pollutants also make it harder for communities to obtain clean air permits necessary to attract manufacturing plants.

We often hear that it is the job of Congress, not the bureaucrats and courts, to set clean air rules. Our common sense legislation is an opportunity for Congress to do its job in a way that will clean the air at the lowest possible cost to ratepayers. We hope you will be become a co-sponsor. To be added as a co-sponsor please have your staff contact Curtis Swager (Alexander, 4-8989) or Stephen Lehrman (Pryor, 8-3063).

Sincerely,

Lamar Alexander

Mark Pryor


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