EPA Official Knew Rule Change Could Hurt Enforcement, GAO Says

The top air-quality official at the U.S. EPA was warned repeatedly by agency staffers that changes to the New Source Review rules of the Clean Air Act could undermine enforcement actions against polluting industrial plants, a General Accounting Office report found last week. But still the official, Assistant EPA Administrator Jeffrey Holmstead, told Congress last year that the change would not get in the way of pending court cases against polluters. Now a number of Democratic senators, including presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), are asking the EPA’s inspector general to investigate the matter and find out whether the Bush administration deliberately deceived Congress and “intentionally undermined” enforcement lawsuits.