[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

GLIN==> G.W. Bush Tries to Trash Clean Air Act

G.W. Bush is about to sign a rule repealing a provision
to control air pollution from plant modifications that has
been in effect for the last 25 years.....


Yesterday Tanja Vujic at EIP and John Walke at NRDC sent a letter to 
President Bush.  The text of the letter, and the text of an accompanying 
press release, appear below.

August 26, 2003


President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20500

Dear President Bush:

         We write with the urgent request that you direct Acting EPA 
Administrator Marianne Horinko not to promulgate any version of the New 
Source Review (NSR) "equipment replacement" rule that EPA submitted to the 
White House Office of Management and Budget on August 1, 2003.

In comments submitted to EPA on May 2, 2003, environmental and public 
health advocates, including the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and 
the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), demonstrated that the NSR 
rule that EPA now intends to issue would severely weaken the Clean Air 
Act's NSR program, and, as a result, inflict acute harm on public health 
and the environment.  Our comments showed that the exemption that the 
agency now plans to finalize would have excused all of the 
pollution-increasing activities that EPA itself found to be harmful and 
unlawful in its enforcement proceedings against the Tennessee Valley 
Authority (TVA).  Using data from the record of those proceedings, we 
calculated that over 390,000 tons of illegal emissions resulted from just 
three of the nine TVA projects at issue.  This analysis was just one of the 
means by which we showed that EPA's new rule, which applies to some 17,000 
major sources of air pollution, would allow massive increases in industrial 
air pollution and harm the health and welfare of the American public.

On August 7, the United States District Court for the Southern District of 
Ohio held in United States v. Ohio Edison Co. that if a rule exempted the 
pollution-increasing projects proven in that case, the rule would "vitiate 
the very language of the [Clean Air Act] itself."  Using the court's 
factual findings, we have determined that the new EPA exemption would have 
exempted all but one of those projects.  The Ohio Edison decision thus 
necessitates the conclusion that EPA's "equipment replacement" exemption 
violates the Clean Air Act.

Yesterday, the General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report concluding 
that EPA lacked sufficient data to support its conclusion that changes to 
the NSR program are necessary.  The GAO determined that the entire basis 
for EPA's revisions to the NSR program rests "on anecdotal information 
rather than a comprehensive survey or representative sample of industries 
subject to the program."  The GAO confirmed what we have repeatedly 
asserted - that EPA lacks a factual grounding for its arguments that these 
changes will improve air quality.  The GAO explained that although some 
newly permitted projects might increase the efficiency of some facilities, 
"companies often expand production after implementing energy efficient 
projects" which "could increase emissions and related health risks."  The 
GAO's report is consistent with the National Academy of Public 
Administration's (NAPA's) April report on NSR.  NAPA determined, like the 
GAO, that EPA lacked key data on the NSR program and its benefits, and 
erroneously relied on anecdotal reports about its economic and 
environmental effects.  At a minimum, EPA should take the GAO's findings, 
as well as the NAPA report, into account before moving forward with this 

Notwithstanding the clear indications that the "equipment replacement" 
exemption is an unlawful threat to the wellbeing of the American public, 
EPA elected to send a draft final version of the rule to the Office of 
Management and Budget on August 1.  Upon learning last week that EPA 
planned to disregard our comments and promulgate the rule before Labor Day, 
we immediately requested a meeting with Acting Administrator Horinko.  She 
has twice refused to meet with us.  We therefore ask that you direct the 
acting administrator not to finalize the rule.  We also request your 
assurance that when a new EPA administrator is confirmed, you will direct 
him or her to conduct a thorough review of the rule.  The new appointee 
should not sign the rule unless and until EPA demonstrates, through 
thorough, quantitative analysis, that the rule will not allow pollution 
increases to a greater extent than current law allows, and will not 
adversely impact public health or the environment.


Tatjana Vujic                                                   John D. Walke
Counsel                                                         Director
Environmental Integrity Project                                 Clean Air 
Resources Defense Council

cc:     Marianne L. Horinko, Acting Administrator, U.S. EPA
James L. Connaughton, Esq., Council on Environmental Quality
         Dr. John Graham, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Enclosures (2)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   Contact: Nadia Khatchadourian
Tuesday, August 26, 2003                                Nadiak@mrss.com 
<mailto:Nadiak@mrss.com>, 202-478-6187

Acting EPA Administrator Refuses to Meet with Public

Washington, DC - The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and the Natural 
Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today called upon President Bush to direct 
the acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 
Marianne L. Horinko, to abandon the agency's planned "equipment 
replacement" exemption, which would severely weaken the Clean Air Act's New 
Source Review (NSR) program.  In a letter sent today to President Bush, EIP 
and NRDC criticized EPA for disregarding comments submitted on behalf of 
several organizations, and for ignoring the General Accounting Office's 
finding that EPA had no factual basis to make the changes.  The letter 
informs the president that EPA's action would violate his administration's 
responsibility to uphold and enforce unambiguous Congressional mandates in 
the Clean Air Act, and it asks him to halt adoption of the new NSR 
rule.  The groups also urged President Bush to direct his nominee for EPA 
administrator, Governor Michael Leavitt of Utah, to review the proposed 
rule.  Ms. Horinko has twice refused to meet with EIP and NRDC to discuss 
the impending finalization of the rule.

"The proposed rule cuts the heart out of the Clean Air Act by authorizing 
big emission increases when plants are upgraded, even though EPA has argued 
in their enforcement actions against utilities that loopholes this big 
violate the law," said Eric Schaeffer, director of EIP. "Governor Leavitt 
or whoever the next EPA administrator is really needs to sort this out."

News reports indicate that Horinko plans to sign the NSR rule regulating 
power plant and other industrial emissions by Wednesday, August 27.  Given 
the adverse impacts that the rule would have on air quality and public 
health, EIP and NRDC twice asked to meet with Horinko.   She has refused 
those requests.

"When it comes to gutting the Clean Air Act for the benefit of corporate 
polluters, the Bush administration's motto appears to be, 'Damn the public, 
full speed ahead,'" said John Walke, director of the Clean Air Program at 

The proposed changes to the NSR rule would exempt from the Clean Air Act 
massive pollution increases at some 17,000 industrial plants, allowing the 
facilities to undertake extensive equipment replacement projects without 
having to install modern pollution controls.  Current rules require all 
major emission sources to install pollution control devices whenever they 
modify their plants in ways that increases emissions.  Only those projects 
that qualify under a narrow "routine maintenance" exemption are 
excluded.  The effect of the new rule is one that the United States 
District Court for the Southern District of Ohio recently held would 
"vitiate the very language of the [Clean Air Act] itself."

# # #

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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
glin-announce is hosted by the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN):
To subscribe: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_form.html
To post a message: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_post.html
To search the archive: http://www.glin.net/lists/glin-announce/
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *