EPA inspector general blasts Bush admin’s power-plant rules

The U.S. EPA came under harsh criticism yesterday from environmental fringe extremists … oh, wait, no … actually, from its own top investigative official. The agency’s inspector general issued a scathing report saying that enforcement of clean-air laws has been crippled by the Bush administration’s decision to substantially revise the new-source review rule, which requires that power plants upgrading their equipment install the latest pollution-control technologies. The Bush EPA proposed changing the rule to say that the new upgrades must cost at least 20 percent of the value of the generating unit for the requirements to kick in — a change that top officials claimed would have no adverse effect on enforcement efforts. In fact, after interviewing numerous agency employees, Inspector General Nikki L. Tinsley concluded that even though the new rule has not been instituted yet, current lawsuits have been stymied and it has become more difficult to launch new enforcement actions. Enviros hailed the report even as officials in the agency’s political (as opposed to enforcement) wing dismissed it.