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Federal Clean Air Bill Standards

Pardon us if we don’t share David Broder’s celebration of the Senate’s passage of a new clean air bill (“Clean Air Survives the Deal-Breakers,” Op-Ed Page, April 11).

While a milestone for the rest of the nation, the Senate bill does little for California--we’re way ahead of the Senate and everybody else. In some ways, it is even weaker than the present law. Most disappointing, the bill continues to absolve the federal government from any responsibility in the cleanup effort. This is true even where the federal government alone has authority to control emissions: from trains, planes and ships, and from Defense Department activities.

The Senate bill still requires Los Angeles to meet federal clean air standards. Thus, by allowing the federal government to shirk its own cleanup responsibility, the Senate is dumping a greater burden on Southland residents and industries, who must make up the difference.

The trouble with the Senate’s approach on clean air is that, like the weakest link in the chain, the bill is only as strong as the least likely senator to support it.

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Unlike Broder, we applaud the efforts of California Sens. Pete Wilson and Alan Cranston to seek amendments to help California--and other urban areas--meet the standards mandated in the bill.

JAMES M. LENTS

Executive Officer, South Coast Air Quality Management District

El Monte

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