Draft EPA regulation could up air pollution

The U.S. EPA is considering a regulatory change that could massively increase air pollution — which is really its job, when you think about it. Currently, oil refineries, chemical factories, and other operations that emit more than 25 tons of toxics into the air a year must apply best available pollution-control technologies; emissions then typically fall dramatically, to the tune of over 95 percent. The revised rule would allow plants that dip back under 25 tons to ditch the technology, meaning many plants would be allowed to increase emissions, some enormously. But don’t worry: the rule says they probably wouldn’t, in order “to avoid negative publicity and to maintain their appearance as responsible businesses.” Yeah, we feel good about relying on that. A memo sent to EPA chieftains from nine of the agency’s 10 regional directors — and recently leaked to the Natural Resources Defense Council — decried this “drastic change in interpretation” of current regulations under the Clean Air Act as “detrimental to the environment.”