In the most far-reaching move to relax air pollution rules in years, the Bush administration on Friday gave refineries new flexibility to upgrade their facilities without having to reduce emissions. The U.S. EPA also outlined proposals that would give aging coal-fired power plants a similar advantage — allowing them to upgrade and increase energy output — without having to install new anti-pollution equipment. The plans represent giant reforms to the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review rule, which till now required antiquated plants undergoing modernization to meet up-to-date air standards. The EPA said the changes would lead to cleaner air, as plant owners would now have greater freedom to adopt new technologies. But attorneys general from the six New England states, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York said they would sue to block the changes. The EPA announcement provoked some congressional Democrats to call on EPA Administrator Christie Whitman to resign.
Get Grist in your inbox