Draft Air Rule Could Be a Gift to Polluting Industries

Thousands of old, highly polluting power plants and other industrial facilities could get a free pass under a draft air-pollution rule that the Bush administration is expected to put in place before the end of the month. The rule, which represents a big win for oil, coal, and electric companies, would allow old plants to make significant upgrades without having to install new anti-pollution equipment. The result: Polluters would save millions or even billions of dollars while continuing to pump out hundreds of thousands of tons of air contaminants. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a leading clean-air crusader, threatened to file suit against the new rule as soon as it was issued. “This makes it patently clear that the Bush administration has meant all along to repeal the Clean Air Act by administrative fiat,” Spitzer said.