EPA Expected to Ease Up on Utility Emission Rules

August 15, 2001


On Friday, Aug. 17, 2001, EPA will deliver to President Bush its recommendations for streamlining air pollution regulations for utility power plants and other energy-related facilities. The agency is expected to favor replacing specific limits on air emissions for these facilities with expanded market-based approaches, such as emissions trading. EPA press: Cathy Milbourn, 202-564-7824.

Since 1977, the New Source Review program (part of the Clean Air Act) has required companies to install the best available pollution control equipment whenever building a new facility or making a major modification that increases emissions from an existing facility. Industry groups have been lobbying strongly in favor of relaxing or eliminating NSR for the energy industry.

The Bush Admin's energy plan calls for building 1300-1900 new US power plants by 2020. In May 2001, VP Cheney's energy task force asked EPA to review how NSR affects utility and refinery investment in new capacity, energy efficiency, and environmental protection. On June 22, 2001, EPA released a background paper on NSR, kicking off the 90-day review period culminating in this week's report.

EPA's upcoming report will focus on sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, but according to Reuters it will not address carbon dioxide.

Following this report, the Bush Admin. may propose dropping the high-profile lawsuits that the Clinton Admin's EPA, Dept. of Justice, and some states filed in 1999. These enforcement actions concerned expansions made to several coal-fired power plants in 9 Eastern states that did not include the installation of modern pollution-prevention equipment required by law. See Tipsheet, Nov. 17, 1999.

  • Natural Resources Defense Council, Clean Air Project: John Walke, 202-289-2406. Watch this page for NRDC's perspective on the new EPA report.
  • Clean Air Task Force: Armond Cohen or Ann Weeks (617-292-0234), or Conrad Schneider (207-721-8676).
  • Clean Air Trust: Frank O'Donnell, 202-785-9625.
  • Edison Electric Inst.: Dan Riedinger, 202-508-5483, Energy Issues/News.
  • Natl. Petrochemical and Refiners Assoc.: Shawn Gallagher, 202-457-0480, Release.