Skip to comments.Bush Administration to Release New Pollution Rules
Posted on 11/22/2002 9:02:08 AM PST by Lassiter
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration will release new rules on Friday to give older coal-fired power plants more leeway to avoid costly maintenance to reduce emissions, congressional sources said on Thursday.
The Environmental Protection Agency will release its long-awaited "new source review" guidelines on Friday, said Chris Miller, a staffer on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
EPA spokesman Joe Martyak declined to comment on the timing for the release of the new rules.
Existing rules require U.S. utilities and refineries to invest in state-of-the-art pollution controls if a plant undergoes a major expansion or modification.
But the Bush administration announced in June it planned to relax the rules to make it easier for utilities to perform major modifications that extend the life of aging plants without triggering pollution-reduction requirements.
The proposed rules, which do not require congressional approval, have provoked a fury of protest from environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers, who view them as an attempt to relax the Clean Air Act.
"These rollbacks of the Clean Air Act are unacceptable and endanger public health," said Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts.
Markey called the planned changes "the post-election opening salvo in the Republicans' war on our nation's clean air and clean water laws."
Final details of the proposal were fluid as of late on Thursday. The rules are expected to widen an exemption for utilities and refineries from installing new pollution devices when they conduct routine maintenance and repairs.
Under the rules, "you can basically do everything but tear the plant down and not trigger the requirements," said Phil Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.
The new rules were awaiting approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget.
The Edison Electric Institute, which represents many large U.S. utilities, applauded the rule change.
The revisions will hopefully "remove the perpetual threat of litigation now hanging over the heads of power plant operators facing difficult decisions about whether to proceed with critical maintenance," said EEI spokesman Dan Riedinger.
The utility industry will reduce its pollution emissions regardless of government action, Riedinger said.