Enviro groups appeal lax EPA regs on formaldehyde

In an era of serial outrages, even the most battle-hardened enviros were astonished by a U.S. EPA rule issued last spring: The rule exempted so-called low-risk wood-product factories from strict pollution controls, ignoring federal and independent health data on the dangers of formaldehyde — emitted during manufacture of wood products — in favor of a risk-assessment study conducted by a think tank funded by the industry. Now environmental groups have filed a petition protesting the rule — which Earthjustice attorney James Pew called “an environmental low for the Bush administration” — with the EPA and a federal appeals court, asking for an immediate stay. The petition claims the rule is unlawfully based on risk rather than the “maximum achievable control technology” standard of the Clean Air Act; opponents of the rule also say it was pushed through without sufficient public scrutiny and amounts to a giveaway to industry. “In their rush to get something out to meet their ideological needs,” said Eric Schaeffer of the Environmental Integrity Project, “they got terribly careless.”