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State Democrats Critical of Bush Clean Air Changes

By Mark Scott

Washington, DC – Elected officials from New York are voicing their opposition to a Bush Administration plan to ease some of the most stringent measures of the Clean Air Act. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer says if the new rules are allowed to stand, he'll go to court to challenge them.

The intent of the new regulations, says the Bush Administration, is to give power providers more flexibility as they perform repairs or upgrade capacity without having to install a whole range of emission controls. Officials say current regulations discourage power providers from making improvements. They say the changes will lead to less pollution not more.

But environmentalists and some prominent Democrats disagree. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York says Northeastern states are especially vulnerable to more pollution.

"What we've got here is a real prejudice against the Northeast," Clinton said. "It seems our air is not as important to this administration as the power plants which put huge smokestacks into operation so that their emissions don't fall onto their own people but instead get into the air currents and come over making it difficult for us to breathe."

Attorney General Spitzer accuses the Bush Administration of fundamentally gutting the Clean Air Act. He said he'll go to court to challenge them. Spitzer also says the proposed changes would not affect lawsuits he's filed against Mid-West utilities for previous violations of the Clean Air Act.