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Environment

EPA control of air toxics needs improvement

July 31, 2006 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 84, ISSUE 31

EPA efforts to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants need a major upgrade, the Government Accountability Office says in a report released last week. GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, finds that the agency's air toxics program has set emission limits for large industrial sources, including chemical manufacturing plants. But the agency lacks data to assess how well these actions have reduced health risks, GAO says. EPA has failed to meet requirements in the 1990 Clean Air Act to control air toxics from vehicles and small commercial sources, such as dry cleaners, GAO says. It recommends EPA set a schedule for meeting statutory mandates on air toxics and determine how much money the agency will need to do so. EPA also should improve its inventory of air toxics emissions and how it measures the costs and benefits of air toxics reductions, GAO adds. Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.), one of the lawmakers who requested the report, called for comprehensive congressional oversight of the air toxics program. The report (GAO-06-669) is available at www.gao.gov/new.items/d06669.pdf.

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