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EPA Concedes New Source Review Changes Made in Haste

Lack of public input opportunities forces EPA to reconsider changes
July 25, 2003
Washington DC —

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admitted today that it rushed to finalize changes to the new source review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act without waiting for public input. The changes, adopted on New Year's Eve, 2002, have been challenged in court by the American Lung Association, Communities for a Better Environment, Environmental Defense, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Sierra Club, all represented by Earthjustice, and by seven other state and regional environmental groups.

The NSR program requires industrial facilities to install up-to-date pollution controls when they upgrade or modify their equipment and significantly increase their emissions. December's rule change made it easier for facilities to avoid updating pollution controls by adopting new loopholes and pollution accounting gimmicks. To make matters worse, since the rule change, the EPA has attempted to force states and municipalities with stronger pollution control rules to weaken their regulations to conform to the new federal rules.

Senators John Edwards (D-NC) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) plan to offer an amendment to the Senate Energy Bill that would block the EPA from requiring states to make so-called "conforming" changes, until the agency completes a study to evaluate whether the changes would weaken the states' existing clean air programs.

Today's announcement from the EPA is available at: http://www.epa.gov/nsr/

CONTACTS:

Keri Powell, Earthjustice, 202-667-4500 x 209, cell: 917-402-1668

John Walke, NRDC, 202-289-2406

Vicki Patton, Environmental Defense, 303-440-4901

Pat Gallagher, Sierra Club, 415-977-5709

Diane Maple, American Lung Association, 202-785-3355

Jonathan Lewis, Clean Air Task Force, 617-292-0234 [Counsel for Alabama Environmental Council, Clean Air Council, Group Against Smog and Pollution, Michigan Environmental Council, Ohio Environmental Council, Scenic Hudson, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy]

Background

On March 3, 2003, the EPA revoked the authority of Massachusetts and various California and Nevada air districts to administer certain clean air programs, based on their refusal to conform with the new NSR regulations:

California/Nevada Federal Register Notice, April 21, 2003

Massachusetts Federal Register Notice, June 17, 2003

Contacts

Keri Powell, 202-667-4500 x 209,

cell phone: 917-402-1668

Cat Lazaroff, 202-667-4500 x 213

We're the lawyers for the environment, and the law is on our side.