Trout Unlimited (TU) today expressed disappointment at the failure of the
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to pass a strong, bipartisan
clean air bill. Earlier this week, the committee deadlocked 9-9 on the
administration-backed Clear Skies Initiative. Republican leaders on the
committee failed to amend the bill sufficiently to reach a compromise with
the seven Democrats, one Independent, and one Republican who voted against
Trout Unlimited's members in the East seek reductions in sulfur dioxide
and nitrogen oxides in order to reduce acid deposition in the region's
mountain streams and lakes. Many of the mountain watersheds affected by
acid rain also include some of the best habit for brook trout, the East's
only native trout.
"In the end, the caps in Clear Skies on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides
would have benefited mountain streams and lakes in the Appalachians,"
said Leon Szeptycki, TU's Eastern Conservation Director. "The bill,
however, simply contained too many regulatory giveaways, particularly on
mercury, to pass with bipartisan support. We believe that a more
straightforward bill, with good caps and fewer rollbacks of existing Clean
Air Act programs, would pass with strong bipartisan support and bring
tremendous benefits to the whole country." The bill also deadlocked
because of failure to reach agreement about how to handle emissions of
Trout Unlimited urged Congress to revisit the issue and attempt to forge a
strong, bipartisan compromise.
Trout Unlimited did express support for the Clean Air Interstate Rule
(CAIR) today announced by the EPA. The CAIR would provide for caps in
acid rain-causing emissions in Eastern states in order to meet air quality
standards. "We would prefer to see lower caps, and we would prefer
nationwide caps. We would also ideally like to see the caps implemented
more quickly," said Szeptycki. "But the CAIR will ensure that sulfur
dioxide emissions will continue to decline, and will provide relief to our
mountain trout waters. The rule certainly represents some positive
progress in the absence of better legislation."