House and Senate leaders are presenting similar versions of what they say is long-overdue acid rain legislation that stands a good chance of passing this year.
"For seven years, we have supported legislation to control acid rain," Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, said at a news conference Wednesday to announce a tentative acid rain plan agreed to by 27 senators. "Three times in this decade the Committee on Environment and Public Works has reported such legislation, but thus far, the Senate has not considered the legislation."On the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., was joined by Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and three Ohio congressmen when he announced legislation patterned after a compromise reached by the two governors last month.
Both plans call for a 10-million-ton reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions from old coal-fired utility plants, as compared to a 12-million-ton reduction called for in amendments to the Clean Air Act now stalled in the Senate. The Boehlert bill would give utilities 15 years to comply, while the Senate plan gives them 12.
Figuring that it will cost about $1.8 billion a year to reduce emissions, the Boehlert bill proposes that polluters pay half that cost, the oil industry pay $650 million a year through fees for oil storage, and the federal government pay the remaining $250 million annually.