In a statement that shed light on internal and external frustrations with the U.S. EPA, Agency chief Christie Whitman predicted yesterday that power companies being sued by the government for polluting would wait to settle those cases until one of the biggest ones — against the Tennessee Valley Authority — was resolved. Environmental organizations and other critics saw the statement as a sign that Whitman was giving power companies the go-ahead to ignore the Clean Air Act; Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) expressed surprise that Whitman “would recommend that corporate defendants decline to negotiate with her own agency over laws she is required to enforce.” TVA is one of nine utilities being sued by the federal government for failing to comply with New Source Review regulations, which require power plants to install state-of-the-art pollution controls when upgrading facilities.