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Governors Attack Cost-Sharing Plan For Cleaning Air

January 11, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Governors of three states that have little pollution are complaining that states with dirty air are trying to take advantage of subsidies for cleaning up their power plants while enjoying low electric rates.

″They can do like we have ... clean up and still be economically viable,″ Minnesota Gov. Rudy Perpich, co-chairman of the Alliance for Acid Rain Control, said Wednesday.

The group released a study saying that three-fourths of the 25 utilities targeted for the largest reductions in the first phase of a cleanup proposed by President Bush had electric rates below the national average in 1987.

Sixty percent of the 25 utilities had rates at least 10 percent below the average and one company’s rates were 75 percent below the average, the group said. Twenty percent had rates above the average, the highest by a margin of 12 percent.

The 25 utilities are located in 11 midwestern and southern states. The study used a composite of industrial, commercial and residential rates for comparisons.

The alliance describes itself as a nationwide organization of governors, academics, environmentalists and business executives. The governors tend to come from low-polluting states.

Bush proposed cutting sulfur dioxide emissions, a major cause of acid rain, by 10 million tons nationwide by the year 2000. This would represent a reduction of about 43 percent from the estimated total of more than 23 million tons a year.

His plan, which is expected to go to the Senate floor later this month, would force states with the highest emissions to pay the largest share of the cleanup costs. High-pollution states worried about a potential loss of jobs want to spread the costs around, which would result in cleaner states paying more.

″We’re paying for California and Texas to bail out the S&L’s but they don’t want to pay for their share of the sulfur dioxide emissions in the country,″ said Rep. Philip Sharp, D-Ind., in response to the study.

Sharp, whose home state is a major sulfur dioxide polluter, is chairman of the energy and power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The subcommittee is considering a House version of the president’s plan.

Sulfur dioxide and other emissions turn into acids high in the atmosphere and can fall as acid rain, fog or snow up to several hundreds of miles downwind. Environmentalists blame this acidity for the destruction of aquatic life in lakes and streams and some say it is responsible for the death of red spruce forests at high altitudes in the East.

Cost-sharing plans being advanced in Congress would raise electric rates $2 a month nationwide, according to the alliance.

Perpich and the governors of Wisconsin and Wyoming said power plants in their states had taken extensive steps to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

The nation’s 10 dirtiest power plants produce more than half the nation’s sulfur-dioxide emissions, but they have invested only $2.9 billion in air- pollution controls, less than a fifth of the $16.4 billion spent nationwide, according to the alliance’s study.

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