In the most dramatic move yet relating to the Bush administration’s internal battle over federal clean air policy, a senior U.S. EPA official resigned this week to protest White House efforts to weaken tough emissions standards for power plants and oil refineries. Eric Schaeffer, head of the agency’s Office of Regulatory Enforcement, accused the Energy Department and the White House of kowtowing to the power industry and interfering with EPA efforts to enforce New Source Review rules. The rules require that companies install state-of-the-art pollution controls when upgrading power plants and refineries — and the Clinton-era EPA sued several utilities for breaking the rules. But responding to pressure from utilities, Vice President Dick Cheney’s task force ordered a review of the rules, a move that outraged environmentalists — and Schaeffer. His resignation has prompted Senate hearings into the Bush administration’s environmental record. Read Schaeffer’s resignation letter on the Grist Magazine website.
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