After months of internal debate, the Bush administration has decided (surprise, surprise) to replace pollution lawsuits with voluntary incentives to encourage coal-powered utilities and oil refineries to clean up their acts, according to U.S. EPA officials. The Clinton administration sued dozens of the country’s worst polluting power plants for violating New Source Review rules, which require that companies install state-of-the-art pollution controls when upgrading power their facilities. Energy behemoths like Southern Co. launched a huge lobbying effort to stop the lawsuits and gave millions of dollars to Republican political campaigns. The Bush administration is expected to announce its formal plan to revamp the rules in the next few weeks.

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