- March 31 - The Environmental Protection Agency today is holding
five public hearings about proposed changes to the Clean Air Act,
soliciting comments from the public about a plan to weaken protections
that require polluting industries to improve pollution controls
when upgrading their plants.
new regulations will allow corporations to spend tens of millions
of dollars modifying power plants and other industrial smokestacks
without requiring them to improve pollution controls-no matter
how much pollution increases because of the modifications,"
said Joy Oakes, spokesman for the National Parks Conservation
Association. "That means more pollution harming our national
parks, park visitors, and people across the country. Most Americans
want clean air laws to be enforced, not weakened. Yet the administration
already has weakened existing protections, and now proposes
even more. If the administration continues to ignore public
opposition to weakening clean air programs, these public hearings
are nothing more than an elaborate April Fool's joke on the
changes to the New Source Review program (NSR) represent the
most dramatic rollback of clean-air laws to date. NSR requires
coal-fired power plants, oil refineries, chemical plants, and
other large polluting facilities to adopt modern pollution controls
and to examine impacts on downwind populated areas and national
parks before undertaking actions that would otherwise increase
the amount of pollution that the facilities release. Under the
proposed rule changes, facilities will no longer be required
to install modern pollution controls regardless of any emissions
increases as long as they satisfy either of two permissive conditions.
First, structural alterations will not trigger the control requirements
if the cost of making the changes is less than a certain percentage
of the cost of the entire facility. Second, no modern pollution
controls will be mandated, regardless of cost, if the change
can be portrayed as the replacement of one piece of equipment
with another piece of equipment that serves the same function,
even if pollution increases as a result.
from the few dozen industries sued by the Department of Justice
in 1999 for violating the long-standing NSR program are responsible
for as many as 7,000 premature deaths and 170,000 asthma attacks
yearly. Approximately 17,000 industrial sources currently are
subject to the program's requirements. "Congress gave industries
time to phase in necessary controls when it strengthened the
law 25 years ago," Oakes said. "National parks and
communities continue to suffer from the effects of pollution.
To rewrite the laws meant to protect people and parks, and to
allow overhauls of old facilities without installation of state-of-the-art
pollution controls, violates the public trust. So far, EPA has
weakened the law and is protecting polluters, not people and
parks. We urge EPA to hear the public's concerns, and choose
to protect and enforce existing clean air programs, not weaken
Protecting Parks for Future Generations(r) Founded in 1919,
the National Parks Conservation Association is America's only
private, nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated solely to
protecting, preserving, and enhancing the National Park System.
Today, NPCA has more than 300,000 members. A library of national
park information, including fact sheets, congressional testimony,
position statements, and press releases, can be found on NPCA's
Web site at http://www.eparks.org/media_center.