EPA issues draft rules that would gut air-pollution standard

The U.S. EPA has issued draft regulations that would allow the nation’s dirtiest power plants to emit more air pollution. The proposed regs — anticipated and dreaded by clean-air advocates — would supersede new-source review (NSR), the Clean Air Act regulation requiring plants to upgrade their anti-pollution technology when expanding or modernizing their operations. The new rules would give plants a pass on upgrades if their hourly emissions rate doesn’t increase, even if the plant goes on to operate for longer hours. Utilities would still need to reduce air pollution, eventually, but at a significantly slower rate than NSR requires — one that could lead to 70,000 additional premature deaths by 2025, according to U.S. PIRG. Plus, at least a dozen current federal lawsuits against polluting utilities under NSR might be undercut. “Whatever shell of new-source review remained, it’s now being completely eviscerated,” said John Stanton, an attorney with Clear the Air.