EPA relaxes clean-air requirements for ethanol-fuel plants

Before last week, plants turning corn into liquor (yes, please) were allowed to emit 250 tons of emissions per year before triggering clean-air regulations, while those processing corn into ethanol fuel could emit only 100 tons annually. Just doesn’t seem fair, does it? So the U.S. EPA did the logical thing, announcing that ethanol-fuel plants will now be allowed the higher pollution level too — and they won’t have to keep track of emissions from vents and other minor sources. Because a process for making clean energy should get to be dirty! The new rule will not apply in urban areas that have air-quality problems, which is fine, since everyone knows people outside cities don’t care about air quality. “Even with the change, ethanol is significantly net positive for emissions and greenhouse gases,” declared the CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, but Frank O’Donnell of the nonprofit Clean Air Watch is unconvinced: “It’s going to mean more dirty air and more disease.” We need a drink.