The administration seems to be re-working air pollution regulations:
The Bush administration has drafted regulations that would ease pollution controls on older, dirtier power plants and could allow those that modernize to emit more pollution, rather than less.
The language could undercut dozens of pending state and federal lawsuits aimed at forcing coal-fired plants to cut back emissions of harmful pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, said lawyers who worked on the cases.
The draft rules, obtained by The Washington Post from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group, contradict the position taken by federal lawyers who have prosecuted polluting facilities in the past, and parallel the industry’s line of defense against those suits. The utilities, and the proposed new rules, take the position that decisions on whether a plant complies with the regulations after modernization should be based on how much pollution it could potentially emit per hour, rather than the current standard of how much it pollutes annually.
Under the new standard, a modernized plant’s total emissions could rise if the upgrade allowed it to operate longer hours. In court filings, the EPA estimated in 2002 that an hourly standard would allow eight plants in five states — including Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia — to generate legally as much as 100,000 tons a year of pollutants that would be illegal under the existing New Source Review rule. That equals about a third of their total emissions.
EPA spokeswoman Eryn Witcher said the administration believes the existing power plant rule is no longer necessary because of other regulatory initiatives. She said a newer and different regulation designed to cut pollution from eastern power plants, the Clean Air Interstate Rule, would achieve greater pollution reductions than the New Source Review modernization guidelines.
As this story is written, it seems like a no-brainer to oppose it. However, it might actually be an improvement in the efficiency in the plant (the upgrades mean less pollutants per unit of power, but they will be producing more units of power, hence a net gain in pollutants). Be interesting to see what comes of this.
And because nothing is clear to my left-leaning Kommentariat, I am against air pollution, but I would like to know what is going on before I commit to a position. In other words, I am being your typical lickspittle apologist sychophant.