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E-M:/ Letter to Bush

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

Because of the importance of this issue, the sponsorship
of this letter by national affiliates of several EM
participants and because Michigan is presently writing
new source review rules at the MDEQ, I'm posting this
letter just sent to G. W. Bush...

American Lung Association * American Public Health Association * Clean Air 
Task Force * Clean Water Action * Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund * 
Environmental Defense * Izaak Walton League of America * League of 
Conservation Voters * National Environmental Trust * National Parks and 
Conservation Association * National Wildlife Federation  * Natural 
Resources Defense Council * Physicians for Social Responsibility * Sierra 
Club *
U.S. Public Interest Research Group

February 1, 2002

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C.  20500

Dear Mr. President:

We, the undersigned leaders of 15 of the nation’s leading public health, 
environmental and environmental justice organizations, representing 
millions of Americans, are deeply troubled by reports that your 
administration is preparing to issue regulatory changes that will weaken 
one of the most important aspects of our Clean Air Act, the New Source 
Review program.  News accounts from the last few weeks raise the threat of 
the most serious administrative rollback of the Clean Air Act’s protections 
in its 30-year history.  We are writing to urge you to put the health of 
America’s citizens and our environment first, by directing your agencies to 
drop any regulatory effort that would allow more pollution from any 
industrial facility than would be allowed under current law.  In addition, 
we urge you to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to provide an 
opportunity for public comment on the specific measures that EPA plans to 

Despite progress in reducing smog and soot over the past 3 decades, air 
pollution still plagues our nation. More than 120 million Americans still 
live in areas where smog levels are high enough to adversely impact public 
health, causing an estimated 6 million smog-induced asthma attacks per 
year.  Soot from the smokestacks of power plants alone has been linked to 
the early deaths of an estimated 30,000 Americans each year.  While 
compromising our health, these same pollutants wreak havoc on our 
environment - causing acid rain that is destroying lakes and forests 
throughout the east, and clouding the scenic vistas in our national parks 
and wilderness areas.

The New Source Review (NSR) program is one of our most important tools for 
achieving clean air.  The NSR Background Paper released last fall by the 
U.S. EPA found that the NSR program has been successful in reducing air 
pollution by 1.4 million tons per year in clean air attainment areas alone. 
Indeed, the NSR program uniquely functions to protect the scenic vistas and 
precious ecosystems in our premier national parks from the adverse effects 
of new air pollution.  In addition, the pending enforcement actions against 
power plants and oil refineries that have been charged with violating the 
NSR rules stand to achieve dramatic reductions in pollution from existing 
facilities across the nation.  In fact, just last week the Department of 
Justice signed a settlement of one such action, which will result in 54,000 
tons less pollution from two New Jersey plants annually.

The measures your Administration is considering would all but eliminate the 
NSR program for existing sources, and would allow dramatic increases in 
pollution from power plants, refineries and other industrial 
facilities.  Reportedly, the proposed “reforms” would result in as many as 
nine new loopholes in the program, any one of which would result in more 
air pollution, and collectively result in a scenario under which the NSR 
program would virtually never apply to an existing source. For example, we 
understand that EPA may allow industrial polluters to claim that their 
current actual emissions are represented by higher pollution levels 
occurring as long as ten years ago, allowing sources to escape pollution 
controls unless they increase pollution above these, inflated pollution 
levels.  We also understand that EPA plans to re-define physical or 
operational changes that significantly increase pollution to be exempt from 
modern pollution controls, including changes that require clean-up under 
current law and that have prompted long overdue EPA and state enforcement 

We are equally troubled by the reports that your administration has 
developed its NSR package in collaboration with industry, while largely 
excluding a broader set of stakeholders from the process.  None of our 
organizations, many of which have been active on this issue for years, have 
been briefed on the details of the package of regulatory changes.  We are 
not the only ones who have been left out.  The Attorneys General of New 
York, Connecticut and several other Northeast states have made the same 
complaint, as have the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program 
Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials 
(STAPPA/ALAPCO), a coalition representing the people who implement the NSR 
program at the state and local levels.  We echo STAPPA and ALAPCO’s request 
in their letter to Administrator Whitman of January 23, that the 
Administration convene a broad stakeholder meeting on this issue before 
moving forward with any NSR changes.  Further, we urge you to allow for 
public comment on the specific, concrete measures EPA plans to adopt.

Finally, we take little comfort from reports that the Administration may 
couple this regulatory rollback of our clean air protections with a set of 
legislative principles placing “caps” on emissions of certain pollutants 
from the nation’s power companies:
Ø       First, these caps would not require any emission reductions from 
refineries or other industrial facilities, approximately 17,000 of which 
could increase emissions as a result of your regulatory rollback.
Ø       Second, you have made it clear that these caps will not include 
carbon dioxide, the leading cause of global warming.  Multi-pollutant 
legislation without a strong carbon cap would require hundreds of millions 
of dollars in pollution control investment that could become stranded by 
the inevitable later obligation to reduce carbon.
Ø       Third, we strongly believe that static pollution caps do not 
adequately protect public health from pollution increases in local 
communities. A strong NSR program is needed as a backstop to ensure that 
local air quality, public health, and the national parks are 
protected.   Congress and your father’s administration grappled with this 
issue in the 1990 Acid Rain program and decided that pollution caps should 
be added to the current Clean Air Act, not take the place of it.  You 
should make the same decision here and preserve a strong NSR program.
Ø       Last, hypothetical emission reductions from a legislative proposal 
that may never pass cannot reasonably be considered a fair trade for the 
pollution increases that would certainly and immediately result from the 
regulatory changes to the NSR program.

Again, we request a meeting with members of your cabinet to receive 
detailed information regarding any regulatory action being contemplated 
that would impact the nation’s air quality.  Please pause to consider the 
consequences for the millions of Americans who suffer from asthma, or other 
heart and lung diseases, or whose livelihood depends upon travelers seeking 
scenic vistas.  Don’t set the nation on a course toward dirty air.


John Kirkwood
President and CEO
American Lung Association

Mohammad Akhter, MD, MPH
Executive Director
American Public Health Association

Armond Cohen
Executive Director
Clean Air Task Force

David Zwick
Executive Director
Clean Water Action
Vawter Parker
Executive Director
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund

Fred Krupp
Executive Director
Environmental Defense

Paul Hansen
Executive Director
Izaak Walton League of America

Deb Calahan
League of Conservation Voters

Phillip E. Clapp
National Environmental Trust

Thomas C. Kiernan
National Parks and Conservation Assn.

Mark Van Putten
President & CEO
National Wildlife Federation

John Adams
Natural Resources Defense Council

Robert K. Musil, Ph.D, MPH
CEO and Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Carl Pope
Executive Director
Sierra Club

Gene Karpinski
Executive Director
U. S. Public Interest Research Group

Alex J. Sagady & Associates  http://my.voyager.net/~ajs/sagady.pdf

Environmental Enforcement, Technical Review, Public Policy and
Communications on Air, Water and Waste/Community Environmental Protection

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com

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