August 4, 2003
Volume 81, Number 31
CENEAR 81 31 p. 9
ISSN 0009-2347


AIR POLLUTION

REVISITING A NEW REGULATION
EPA to reconsider parts of rule at behest of states, green groups

CHERYL HOGUE

EPA
STEVEN HOLT/PICTUREDESK 2003
is reconsidering parts of a controversial air pollution regulation supported by the chemical industry and opposed by northeastern states and environmental activists.

The rule, issued in late 2002, allows chemical and pharmaceutical makers and refineries to modify production facilities without obtaining a new air pollution control permit. The regulation revised the 26-year-old new source review (NSR) program that requires facilities to install up-to-date pollution controls if they increase air emissions through expansions or by altering production processes (C&EN, Dec. 2, 2002, page 11).

The agency said on July 25 that in response to petitions from state governments and environmental groups, it would accept comments through Aug. 29 on a handful of technical issues related to the rule. This includes an EPA supplemental analysis, not subject to public comment before the rule was issued, that concluded that the rule would lead to cleaner air than the original NSR standards.

EPA will announce by Oct. 28 whether it will change the rule.

Ten northeastern states, California, several environmental groups, and the American Lung Association are challenging the rule in court, arguing that it creates loopholes in the NSR program and will lead to more pollution. Environmental organizations view EPA’s announcement about reviewing the regulation as an acknowledgment that the agency rushed to finalize the changes.

The American Chemistry Council, a supporter of the rule, expressed disappointment. ACC says that EPA’s reconsideration will postpone resolution of the pending court case and will delay the public health benefits that businesses anticipate will come from the rule. The chemical industry group comments that the NSR rule “would allow companies to swiftly undertake essential improvement projects while protecting the environment.”



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