Air may be free, but it will cost almost everyone to make sure it's clean.
The newly passed clean air bill, aimed at ridding the nation of much of its atmospheric pollution over the next decade, is expected to carry an eventual price tag of more than $22 billion a year.And if you drive a car, use electricity or buy hair spray, you will help pay the bill. Businesses from mortuaries to bakeries will be affected and may pass on their costs to customers or reduce their profits.
President Bush is expected to sign the measure, which will usher in new pollution control requirements on factories, refineries, electric utilities and automakers.
The estimates on how much the anti-pollution law will cost have ranged widely. The White House puts the bill at $10 billion a year by 1995 and anywhere from $22 billion to $25 billion a year by 2005. Some industry estimates have ranged at more than $60 billion a year.
The nation already spends an estimated $32 billion a year on air pollution controls, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Many in industry and government say that amount easily could double.
Automakers say new equipment to comply with tougher tailpipe emission standards will add $500 or more to the price of a car and make some vehicles difficult to engineer so they meet the new requirements. Others put the added cost of a car at closer to $130 per vehicle, and note that is less than the cost of many popular options such as a stereo radio.
Gasoline prices also are expected to increase because refineries will have to produce cleaner-burning fuel.