Schumer pledges to fight for continued emissions reductions

LAKE PLACID U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., chose the perfect backdrop to announce a bill that would curb pollutants that threaten the environmental sanctity of the Adirondack Mountains. With the High Peaks looming in the distance, Schumer spoke to environmentalists and politicians from around the region on the sky deck of the 120-meter ski jump Aug. 8. Before blasting a recent court ruling that obliterated the EPAs Clean Air Interstate Rule, Schumer noted the beauty of the Adirondacks is unique and worth fighting for. This is a serious subject, he said. The Adirondacks are one of the most beautiful natural wonders in our country. It has a special, quiet beauty that stays with you it gets into your skin and never leaves. Under CAIR, states were required to control emissions from power plants by utilizing one of two enforcement programs. However, the dissolution of CAIR by the courts ruling opens the doors for power plants to ignore legislation which would have required the installation of anti-pollutant equipment. Right now, we have a very bad situation that threatens the quality of life here, Schumer said. The increase in air pollution that affects the Adirondacks is worse here than anywhere else. According to Schumer, one-fourth of the lakes in the Adirondacks are classified as dead lakes, meaning pH levels are so acidic native plant and animal species have literally died off. The high pH levels are a direct result of acid rain caused by power plants in neighboring states including Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The two most destructive compounds emitted by power plants are sulfur dioxide known as SOX and nitrogen oxide NOX. Schumer noted CAIR would have greatly reduced the emissions of both compounds. In 2003, New York State power plants emitted 254,000 tons of SOX, he said. With CAIR, the emission would have been cut to 49,000 tons by 2015, a dramatic 83 percent decrease. But, emissions dont just affect the environment. Using estimates established by the EPA, Schumer explained that by 2020, approximately 22,000 premature deaths could be prevented by controlling SOX and NOX emissions. Additionally, reports say 29,000 non-fatal heart attacks, 510,000 cases of respiratory symptoms, and 360,000 cases of asthma exacerbation could be avoided. We dont want things to go from bad to worse; thats what will happen if we do nothing else, Schumer added. What is particularly painful is that many of us have been working very hard for decades, and to have that taken away, just as things were starting to get better it makes no sense. And progress, however slow, was being made. Some of the lakes declared dead, Schumer said, were starting to show signs of life. Various species were beginning to breed again, which inspired hope among environmentalists. Schumer pledged to fight to reinstate the emissions reductions CAIR put in place, calling upon the federal government to establish a cap-and-trade system for power plants throughout the country. The bill, S. 1177, would restrict the emission of the most harmful pollutants. The elimination of these regulations is not something we can just sit back and let happen, said Schumer. We will work to put them back into place so that we may continue to enjoy the majesty of the Adirondacks. Assemblywoman Teresa R. Sayward, R-Willsboro, spoke briefly following Schumers address, giving the senator her full support. This is an important issue to all of us who call the Adirondacks our home, she said. I take issue with the fact that these companies continue to pollute our backyards. I want to call upon our good senator to make sure that this bill gets pushed through and that we can protect the Adirondacks.

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