Does this story sound familiar? A court orders the EPA to take action under the Clean Air Act. The EPA comes out with a set of rules. Business interests complain. The EPA relents, delaying and then relaxing rules that have compliance deadlines years down the line.
That's about the tack the EPA has taken on carbon regulation. But apparently the agency liked it so much, it’s decided to apply the same approach to other environmental threats. This week, the EPA decided to delay indefinitely rules that would limit the amount of mercury, lead and other toxins that boilers in power plants pump into the air. The EPA has said in the past that it expected these rules to preclude as many as 4,800 premature deaths each year and 1.5 million cases of “acute respiratory symptoms.” But then some dudes in ties got mad, so screw those people! Apparently caving to business interests and wishy-washing around in the face of serious health threats is just the EPA M.O.
This is not just a problem of the agency's current leadership. This particular problem started back in 2004 when the Bush administration decided to give power plants a break on boiler standards.
If the EPA were a middle school student, now would be the time when the principal called its parents in to talk about breaking the cycle of negative behavior. And like a kid who acts out, the EPA has been mistreated, neglected, and underfed — er, underfunded. Maybe this is just a cry for attention.
EPA's Boiler MACT: Controlling Emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants, Congressional Research Service.