If the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to protect the environment, why is EPA administrator Christine Whitman poised to increase air pollution at more than 17,000 stinky, old, dirty industrial facilities around the country?
Is Whitman at odds with the Clean Air Act, enacted by Congress in 1970 to protect us from respiratory illnesses caused by soot, smog and toxic air pollution? The Clean Air Act aims to develop increasingly cleaner industrial processes that make air safer to breathe.
Whitman and the EPA seek to scrap the New Source Review (NSR), the part of the Clean Air Act preventing emissions of millions of tons of smog and soot pollution each year. It does this by requiring power plants to install state-of-the-art pollution controls when they make pollution-increasing plant modifications. Without the NSR, companies could make modifications to their plants that would increase emissions -- without installing pollution controls.
The proposal includes a cost threshold below which modifications could escape NSR review, a threshold set so high that no power-plant modification would trigger the NSR and thereby require the plant to install pollution controls. The EPA's Clear Skies Initiative backed by President Bush would actually increase the amount of smog, soot, carbon dioxide and toxic mercury pollution power-plant smokestacks could emit. Will Bush stun the scientific world by presenting ground-breaking research to explain how a pollution uptick leads to clearer skies?