NRDC Releases Bizarre EPA Draft Proposal

I had to read this ENN article several times before finally getting the whole picture: NRDC today released (or maybe leaked is a better word) a draft EPA proposal that would allow major polluters to avoid having to use “the maximum achievable technology controls to lower their pollution” if they control their pollution enough to drop below an annual emissions threshold of “10 tons or more of a single air pollutant or 25 tons or more of a group of pollutants…”

A draft proposal would let oil refineries, hazardous waste incinerators, chemical plants and dozens of other types of facilities that drop below those annual thresholds to reclassify themselves as minor sources of pollution under the Clean Air Act’s air toxics program.

By doing so, businesses could potentially pollute at levels just below the thresholds — rather than be subject to the more stringent requirements for major sources. The proposal applies to air pollutants such as benzene, cyanide, asbestos, lead, mercury and chlorine.

Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, called the proposal “good news for protection of health and the environment.”

Slaughter said major sources of hazardous air pollutants would have to reduce actual emissions to take advantage of the change in policy.

So, let me see if I get this right: you have to cut your pollution a lot, unless, of course, you choose to reduce it a little? Then you won’t have to cut it a lot? And this is good news? In its press release, the NRDC notes that “The rule is so extreme that officials at nine out of the EPA’s ten regional offices joined in a nine-page memo to protest the proposal, saying that, if implemented, it ‘would be detrimental to the environment and undermine the intent’ of the Clean Air Act.” I don’t suppose they’ll be buying offsets for any of this… Thank goodness for groups like NRDC…

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