Clear Skies Act dies in Senate committee

Clear Skies Act dies in Senate committee

[JURIST] The Clear Skies Act of 2005 [THOMAS bill summary], S. 131, stalled in the US Senate Wednesday after a split 9-9 vote in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee [official website]. Senate rules do not allow a bill to advance to the Senate floor on a split committee vote, so the legislation in its current form would appear to be dead. The proposed act, a revision to the Clear Skies Act of 2003, would phase in tighter caps on emissions of sulfur dioxide beginning in 2010; on nitrogen oxides beginning in 2008; initiate a cap on mercury emissions beginning in 2010; and change air pollution rules for power plants. Critics say the bill would significantly weaken existing air pollution controls. In a speech [official text] delivered shortly before the vote Wednesday, President Bush supported the bill and called it "a necessary step that would reduce air pollution without unduly curbing economic expansion". The decisive vote against the bill was cast by Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee (RI) [Senate profile], who stated the bill failed to address the issue of carbon dioxide emissions believed to be responsible for global warming. The impasse means the initiative is likely to remain bottled up in committee indefinitely. AP has more.