August 28, 2003

EPA Exempts Plants From Clean-Air Rule

The _resident gave a speech in the State of Misery
(formerly Missouri, where Carnahan was Wellstoned
before Wellstone was, and from which Ashcroft emerged
to transform the Justice Dept. into the Just Us
Dept.), in his speech, the _resident said there will
be no retreat in Iraq. So true to form. Answer the
question that was not asked instead of the one that
was. When there is regime change in Washington, as
Sen. Kerry (D-Mekong Delta) has called for, we can
repair our relationships and rebuild trust with our
historic alliance and with the UN Security Council
swiftly and move toward an international consensus
once again. Speaking from a similar neo-con bubble of
the-shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony-Blair was
quoted in the Times of London saying he would fight
the French-German initiative for an EU military force
outside of NATO because NATO should not be undermined.
Yes, it is true that NATO should be not undermined, BUT it
is the _resident and
the-shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony-Blair who
have undermined it...MEANWHILE...

EPA Exempts Plants From Clean-Air Rule
2 hours, 21 minutes ago Add Politics - AP to My

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Wednesday made
it easier for thousands of older power plants,
refineries and factories to avoid having to install
costly clean air controls when they replace aging

In a major revision to its air pollution rules, the
Environmental Protection Agency will allow up to 20
percent of the costs of replacing each plant's
production system to be considered "routine
maintenance" not requiring expensive anti-pollution
controls, according to agency documents and interviews
with EPA officials.

The new rule signed Wednesday by the EPA's acting
administrator, Marianne L. Horinko, could be applied
to about 17,000 facilities nationwide and culminates
decades of debate over a controversial Clean Air Act
program. Electric utilities and oil companies have
been urging the White House to revise the program,
saying the costs prohibit them from making
energy-efficiency improvements.

The change represents a fundamental shift away from a
long-problematic 1971 maintenance standard. "We're
going to really, I think, create certainty going
forward for industrial facilities, by spelling out
what specific replacement is exempt," Horinko told The
Associated Press.

Environmentalists say the exemption will allow power
plants in the Midwest and South to continue emitting
millions of tons of pollutants that cause health
problems for people living downwind, particularly in
the Northeast.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer immediately
threatened to sue the Bush administration in an effort
he said would include other states. Spitzer and other
attorneys general have already filed suits challenging
earlier changes the administration made to the

"If allowed to stand, this flagrantly illegal rule
will ensure that, under the watch of the Bush
administration, Americans will breathe dirtier air,
contract more respiratory disease and suffer more
environmental degradation caused by air pollution,"
said Spitzer, a Democrat.

Jeff Holmstead, the EPA's assistant administrator in
charge of air quality, said the rule was meant to let
a plant replace a piece of equipment with something
identical or functionally equivalent, as long as the
plant remains within its pollution permit limits and
the basic operating design remains the same.

"We can say categorically that pollution will not
increase as a result of this rule," he said.

Congress put the Clean Air Act's "new source review"
program into law in 1977. The agency has had mixed
success in enforcing the maintenance provision.

Until now, operators have been required to add more
pollution-cutting devices if they do anything more
than "routine maintenance" on a plant and cause
emissions to increase significantly.

The White House-led reworking of the maintenance
standard essentially allows industries including
manufacturers, chemical plants and pulp and paper
mills to modernize one-fifth of a facility's
essential production systems at a time.

They can do so even if the upgrades increase
emissions, and with no apparent restrictions on time
intervals between modernization. Horinko, Holmstead
and other top EPA officials said the plants still must
comply with overall pollution permit limits and other
state and federal programs for pollutants.

Environmentalists and health advocates, however, said
emissions could increase and still be within the
plant's permitted limits. They described the new
changes as disastrous for people's health and said the
EPA ignored concerns expressed by hundreds of
thousands of Americans opposed to the new regulations.

"EPA is throwing in the towel to industry just as its
own enforcement of the existing rules has proven
successful in the courts," said John Kirkwood,
president of the American Lung Association. "EPA
policy should be based on protecting public health,
not bolstering industry profits."

During the Clinton administration, the federal
government began suing 51 aging power plants and
succeeded in forcing several to install hundreds of
millions of dollars of pollution-control equipment.

Just this month, the first ruling against a utility in
those cases came from a federal judge in Ohio who said
Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. violated the law when it
upgraded seven coal-fired power plants in the name of
routine maintenance without installing anti-pollution

Sen. James Inhofe (news, bio, voting record), R-Okla.,
who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee, said the new rule actually makes it easier
for companies to invest in state-of-the-art pollution
controls and to make upgrades and repairs that will
"ensure greater electricity reliability."

Scott Segal, a lobbyist and attorney for six large
utilities, said the efficiency gains from plant
upgrades will benefit the environment. "Over the last
two decades, emissions from the power sector have
significantly declined. That trend will continue," he


On the Net:

Environmental Protection Agency:

American Lung Association:

Posted by richard at August 28, 2003 03:00 PM