Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, August 22, 2003 (Full Transcript)QUESTION: Can I ask you, since the President is in the Pacific Northwest touting his environmental policy, there's a story in the New York Times today that says the EPA is going to allow older power plants to upgrade without antipollution mechanisms. It's going to save them billions of dollars. How does that square with the President's message?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me mention a couple of things, and our senior administration official might want to add something. But this process has been going through a public comment period. I expect EPA will soon have something more to announce, But, look, our air quality is improving. And we must continue to take steps to improve our air quality, and that's exactly what this administration is doing. In terms of the New Source Review rules, the rules as written have really stood in the way, they've been an impediment to older plants being able to replace older equipment with more modern equipment that will improve energy efficiency reliability and safety.
Let me give you an example. We all -- someone's home, if you have an old water heater that's leaking and you want to replace that water heater with a new water heater that's modern and that is more efficient, you couldn't do that under the old rule. You can now do that under what we're looking at doing. And so that's what -- improving efficiency, improving reliability, improving safety -- that's what we're talking about here.
But I also want to point out, as I said, air quality is improving. We need to continue to take steps to make sure we improve air quality. And that's exactly what this administration is doing. Congress needs to act on the President's Clear Skies Initiative. This initiative will significantly reduce emissions from older power plants -- from all power plants -- by a 70-percent reduction overall in reduction and emissions from power plants.
QUESTION: -- to environmental groups that say this isn't enough?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is about working in an bipartisan way to find solutions to achieve real results. And that's what this is about. And you've heard the President talk about that.
QUESTION: -- new rule coming out next week?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'll let EPA speak further to that. They may have more to say about it today. I'll let them speak further about the timing and the process.
QUESTION: Former Vice President Gore would allow people in for the speech.
MR. McCLELLAN: I understand. I hear your concerns. I'll take it under advisement, but this is the way we've always done it.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- entire country, an ozone and particulate matter. Those are going forward. This rule change will not affect the dramatic reductions in air pollution that's going to occur through our programs.
QUESTION: Is this the clean air initiative? What's it called?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Clear Skies is the best tool for us to do that. So Clear Skies -- we are going to be pursuing these new air quality standards under our existing tools. Clear Skies will enable us to get even further reductions faster from the power plants, and actually guarantee these results on a faster time line. So that's the point I want to be sure you had.