EPA Concedes New Source Review Changes Made in Haste
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/
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]
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