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House Panel Okays Bill To Speed Air Permits

by Glenn Hess
June 16, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 24

The House Energy & Commerce Committee last week approved an industry-backed bill that seeks to make it easier for manufacturers to obtain permits from EPA under the Clean Air Act. Manufacturers are required to undergo a preconstruction review for emissions controls if they propose to build a plant or expand an existing facility in a way that would significantly boost releases of air pollution. H.R. 4795 would require EPA to tie this permitting process to the agency’s actions on air quality standards. The bill would require that whenever the agency tightens an air quality standard it issue guidance on how facilities are to comply with it. If EPA fails to issue guidance concurrently with a revised air quality standard, manufacturers would have to comply only with the less stringent previous standard. In recent years, EPA has ratcheted down a number of air quality standards without giving clear direction to manufacturers, leaving them confused about what they must do to get permits, says Lorraine Gershman, director of regulatory and technical affairs at the American Chemistry Council, an industry group. Democrats in Congress oppose the proposed measure, arguing that it would weaken clean air protections.


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