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Environment

Senators Ask EPA Not To Issue Air Rule

by Cheryl Hogue
November 3, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 44

Because a federal court recently overturned a key Clean Air Act regulation, two powerful Senate Democrats are asking EPA not to issue a pending related rule that would relax some emissions controls on power plants. The pending rule, which the Bush Administration says it will finalize in coming weeks, is expected to boost air pollution from coal-fired power plants. This in turn is likely to pressure state environmental regulators to impose more stringent emissions controls on other industries, possibly including chemical plants, to maintain air quality. Proposed in 2005, the pending rule would allow utilities to renovate and expand the operating capacity of older power plants without having to install modern air pollution controls. EPA said any increase in annual pollution from power plants due to these proposed changes would be offset by another regulation called the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). But in July, a federal appeals court threw out CAIR (C&EN, July 21, page 12). EPA needs to withdraw the pending rule because CAIR no longer exists, say Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, and Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), who chairs the panel’s Subcommittee on Clean Air & Nuclear Safety.

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