Power plant pollution is taking an enormous toll on public health and the environment. But the Bush administration's so-called "Clear Skies Initiative" would do more for powerful utilities than public health. Despite the name, the proposal relaxes key provisions of the Clean Air Act, including its mercury protections, and would worsen global warming.

Earlier this year, thousands of people responded to our e-mail on this issue in support of cleaner air, but now I need your help again.

The Clear Skies bill is expected to come up soon either in a Senate subcommittee or directly on the Senate floor. Please take a moment to urge your U.S. Senators to oppose the White House's Clear Skies proposal. Then, ask your family and friends to help by forwarding this e-mail to them.

Take action: www.pirg.org/alerts/route.asp?id=9&id4=OHFreep

Nearly half of all Americans live in places where the air is so polluted that simply breathing outdoor air can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and even death. This pollution is especially harmful to children, senior citizens and people who suffer from asthma or other respiratory diseases. Air pollution also causes major environmental problems, such as mercury contaminating the fish we eat and carbon dioxide causing global warming.

But thanks to the Clean Air Act, we have some powerful tools to require the worst industrial polluters - electric power plants - to reduce emissions.

Unfortunately, instead of enforcing the laws on the books and requiring dirty power plants to clean up, the Bush administration is letting electric utilities and coal and oil industries rewrite the rules. The misnamed "Clear Skies" bill would relax Clean Air Act rules for the dirtiest power plants, allowing smokestacks to pump 42 million tons more pollution into the nation's skies between now and 2020. In particular, it promises much more smog, soot and mercury pollution and unlimited carbon dioxide pollution:

* The Bush administration's dirty-air plan would allow emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides to be 68 percent higher than current law through 2018;

* It would allow more than double the soot-forming SO2 emissions through 2018;

* It would delay reductions in mercury for 10 years, and even then allow three times higher emissions than current law; and

* It allows unlimited carbon dioxide emissions - forever.

The dirty-air plan also eliminates many of the enforcement mechanisms that states have to reduce air pollution from power plants and other major industrial facilities.

The White House is pressing for quick action on the proposal, and it could come up for a vote soon in either the Senate Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee or directly on the Senate floor, if the bill's supporters decide they can't pass the bill in committee. The utilities and industries that stand to gain from this dirty-air plan, not to mention the White House itself, won't give up easily. But with your help, we have a good chance at blocking it.