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E-M:/ Myths and Facts about Bush Clean Air Act trashing

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

Myths and Facts about the Bush Administration's Clean Air Rollback
Prepared by NRDC, August 26, 2003

On Wednesday the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to finalize a 
final rule adopting a gaping new exemption under the Clean Air Act's New 
Source Review (NSR) Program. This exemption will allow approximately 17,000 
industrial facilities across the country to dramatically increase their 
pollution levels. The NSR program was established in the 1977 Clean Air Act 
Amendments to require existing industrial facilities - including aging 
"grandfathered" plants -  to install modern pollution controls when they 
upgrade their plants and pollute more. There are tens of thousands of aging 
industrial facilities around the country that are more than two decades old.

Myth: The new rules will mean efficient energy is delivered to Americans, 
and public health is not at risk.

Fact: The new rules are the biggest blow to the Clean Air Act since its 
enactment. Despite the enormous impact of this rule change on public 
health, the EPA has never released data to demonstrate that the weakening 
rule changes will not allow pollution to increase at facilities around the 
country. Senators Jeffords and Lieberman have repeatedly requested this 
information but EPA has refused to produce any analysis. NRDC recently 
assessed the impact of the rule changes on 3 major polluting power plants 
and found that actions that are illegal today will be legalized under the 
new rule, allowing the three plants to emit 400,000 tons more pollution 
than the Clean Air Act allows each year. The Bush Administration has not 
challenged this claim or the statement that the rules will allow more 
pollution. They simply change the subject, talking about efficiency instead 
of emissions. Improvements in the efficiency of industrial plants do not 
equate with reductions in pollution. In fact, under the old rules, 
so-called efficiency improvements do not trigger any NSR control 
requirements unless emissions increase.

Myth: The new rules will ensure reliability of energy delivery.

Fact: According to a General Accounting Office report issued August 26,(GAO 
03-947), the EPA relied on anecdotal evidence from four industries to 
justify changes to the NSR program. The report clearly reveals that the 
Administration lacked hard data to show that rule changes were needed to 
improve energy efficiency or reliability. The real motive behind the rule 
changes appears to be industry influence and money. In early 2000, after 
contributing millions of dollars to the Bush campaign in the 2000 election 
cycle, the companies subject to EPA's violation notices enjoyed 
extraordinary access to Vice President Cheney and the other White House 
officials charged with writing the administration's energy plan. In their 
communications with these officials, the NSR violators and other companies 
urged the administration to weaken the rules to exempt the activities that 
polluters had been undertaking without regard for the Clean Air Act's 
pollution control requirements. (see attachment)

Myth: The rule changes will help avoid blackouts.

Fact: The Bush Administration rule changes directly benefit Ohio Edison, 
one of the companies implicated in the recent blackouts. The Justice 
Department recently prosecuted Ohio Edison for the same air pollution 
violations that this rule change would legalize. The case was a landmark 
victory. Now the Bush Administration is legalizing this very behavior. 
NRDC's analysis shows that 10 of the 11 Ohio Edison pollution violations 
would be legal under the new NSR rules. Ohio Edison and other big polluters 
would be allowed to skirt the law, put public health at risk, and avoid 
hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties and plant upgrades. What's 
more, blackouts have been linked to failures in the energy delivery system 
which is not regulated by the NSR provisions. There is no indication that 
clean air protections had anything to do with the blackout. The 
administration is exploiting the blackout to divert attention from its 
attack on the Clean Air Act.

Myth: When coupled with the Bush Administration's Clear Skies Initiative, 
the rule changes will benefit public health and the environment.

Fact: The Clear Skies Initiative is languishing in Congress and will be 
moribund now that power plants were granted such a sweeping regulatory 
rollback. NRDC opposes the Initiative because it would result in more 
pollution than would be allowed if the Clean Air Act were simply enforced. 
Nonetheless, even if passed, it only covers the nation's 1,500 power plant 
s. The Administration's new rule changes affect 15,500 industrial plants 
such as chemical plants, and manufacturing and refinery facilities. None of 
these plants are facing new pollution reduction requirements in congress. 
In addition, the Clear Skies Initiative does not address toxic air 
pollution (volatile organic compounds) that is covered under the NSR program.

David McIntosh
Natural Resources Defense Council

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

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

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