Dec 9, 2002
Choosing a quiet holiday Friday, Bush's EPA chief, Christine Todd Whitman, announced a new gift to the coal and oil interests. The EPA will "amend" the Clean Air Act. In fact, they will nearly cancel it, so that polluters can continue to pollute.
Even New York's Attorney General stated, "The Bush administration is again putting the financial interests of the oil, gas and coal companies above the public's right to breathe clean air."The Clean Air Act says that power plants and oil refineries, when they install new equipment, must use the most "up-to-date" pollution controls. In fact "up-to-date" as already defined by the Clean Air Act was hardly the best pollution controls around. They're more like a kind of minimum.
In any case, routine maintenance and repair are now exempted from this minimum. One of the Bush amendments will redefine "routine maintenance" so as to include installing new equipment and replacing existing equipment. This is basically a lifetime pollution exemption for existing power plants. It's the best redefinition trick since Reagan said that in kids' school lunches, ketchup would count as a vegetable!
There are many other Clean Air Act rollbacks. Pollution controls on individual pieces of equipment can be less strict so long as the total plant emissions can qualify. New equipment to control one type of pollution can release any amount of other types of pollution while operating!
Polluting plants can also benchmark their pollution by using phony baselines. The Clean Air Act requires plants to improve their pollution based on records of the past 24 months. The new amendments allow plants to go by any 24-month period that they want, in the past 10 years.
And plants that have had a government pollution review don't have to take any pollution control action for 10 years afterward.
Nine utility companies are currently being sued by EPA for excess pollution by their coal-fired plants. The utility companies' lawyers immediately asked for their cases to be dismissed, because under the new guidelines their pollution would become legal!
Bush built his personal future and fortune in the oil and energy business. These new rules show how much of a buddy an old Texas oilman can be!