In one of the most damaging regulatory rollbacks in Clean Air Act history, the
administration is expected soon to release a new policy that would
fundamentally undermine clean air protections instrumental in protecting local
air quality for nearly 25 years.
The current protections, operating under a program called "new source review,"
require power plants, refineries, steel mills, chemical companies and other large
industrial sources that lack modern pollution control systems to update their
pollution reduction technology when they take action that significantly increases
air pollution levels. The new policy will broadly exempt these old, high-polluting
industrial sources from the requirement to modernize their pollution controls,
even when they are significantly increasing air pollution in surrounding
neighborhoods and communities.
"For more than two decades, every American has depended on this critical
Clean Air Act program to safeguard local air quality, to ensure healthy air for
our families and to protect our national parks from air pollution," said
Environmental Defense senior attorney Vickie Patton. "These changes will
allow unregulated air pollution increases from large, poorly controlled industrial
sources in every neighborhood in America."
Presently, the new source review program requires old, high-polluting sources
to reduce new pollution that will worsen unhealthy air quality in urban centers or
adversely impact national parks. The program also gives the citizens affected
by the increased pollution notice of the changes and an opportunity to comment
on measures to reduce pollution. The administration's proposal makes sweeping
changes to this program that will allow virtually all pollution increases from old,
high-polluting sources to go unregulated.
"The President committed to reduce pollution and improve air quality; but this
move by his administration will do just the opposite, making it easier for old,
dirty power plants to increase pollution without any accountability," said Patton.
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