Bush admin plans to relax air-pollution regulations on ethanol refineries
President Bush has been hyping the environmental benefits of ethanol in recent months, even as his administration has been preparing to relax air-pollution regulations for new ethanol refineries. The U.S. EPA plans to increase the amount of toxic pollution refineries can emit — from 100 tons a year to 250 tons — before they are required to undergo an intensive permitting process under the Clean Air Act and dramatically reduce their emissions by installing pollution controls; most of the more than 40 new ethanol plants expected to be built in the next year aim to emit just a few tons less than 250. The industry contends that relaxed rules are necessary to sustain the ethanol boom; critics point out that the boom has been booming even with current environmental regulations in place. Less than four years ago, the Bush administration promised to crack down on ethanol-plant pollution, after discovering that several refineries in the Midwest were emitting cancer-causing toxins at levels far greater than they were reporting. So much for that. The new rule needs only to be published in the Federal Register to go into effect.
Get Grist in your inbox