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Public Papers - 1989 - July

Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation To Amend the Clean Air Act

1989-07-21

To the Congress of the United States:

Today I am pleased to transmit proposed legislation entitled the ``Clean Air Act Amendments of 1989.'' This proposal reflects the first major clean air legislation proposed by the executive branch in a decade. It is designed to achieve consensus by complementing the important efforts of the Congress in recent years, so that we can move forward this year with a plan to protect our Nation's air.

On June 12, 1989, I outlined the highlights of my program to provide clean air for all Americans, the first sweeping revisions to the Clean Air Act since 1977. This legislation implements that program. While emissions of some pollutants -- such as lead and carbon monoxide -- have been reduced since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, progress has not come quickly enough and much remains to be done.

My proposal is designed to curb three major threats: acid rain, urban air pollution, and toxic air emissions. The seven-title proposal I am sending you today represents the actions that we believe the Congress should take in each of these areas. If this legislation is enacted, acid rain-related pollutants will be reduced by nearly one-half, all urban areas in the country will finally attain national air quality standards, and emissions of toxic air pollutants will be slashed.

My acid rain proposal would permanently cut sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 10 million tons from 1980 levels and would result in a 2 million ton cut in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from levels projected by the year 2000. All cities currently not meeting the health standards for ozone and carbon monoxide would be brought into attainment. Most cities would attain the standard by 1995, and the plan is designed to ensure attainment in all but the most severely impacted cities by the year 2000. New plants emitting toxic compounds into the air would be required to employ the best technology currently available so as to achieve a significant cut in pollutants suspected of causing cancer.

More important, this proposed legislation makes deep, early cuts in air pollution and continues that progress forward into the 21st century. During my campaign I promised the American people that my Administration would work to protect the environment and to ensure clean air for all Americans. Enactment of the proposal I present to you today will be a major step in fulfilling that promise. I urge these important proposals be promptly considered and enacted. We owe the people of our great Nation nothing less.

George Bush

The White House,

July 21, 1989.

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