Congressmen go to bat for Cat, Cummins

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to U.S. national media, lawmakers met last week with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman.

Among those urging her to delay October’s emissions deadline, were two Illinois Republicans, Ray Lahood and John Shimkus, as well as House Speaker Dennis Hastert, also of Illinois.

The three were among those asking the EPA to reconsider, saying that Illinois-based Caterpillar will be hurt by hefty fines.

The plea apparently fell on deaf ears as after the meeting, EPA spokeswoman Steffanie Bell told reporters the agency, “continues to believe the consent decree should be implemented as scheduled.”

Lahood says the next step is to appeal to the White House.

At the same time Indiana’s Mike Pence and Baron Hill have already written to George W. Bush, saying any delay would set a damaging legal precedent and result in greater air pollution.

Cummins, which is based in Indiana, is so far the only engine maker to have an engine certified by the EPA to meet the October standards.

One option for lawmakers is to offer a tax rebate to fleets buying the new engines to help offset increased costs due to any fines imposed against Caterpillar.

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