Monday, March 20, 2006

Bushco Revisionist Air Standards Defeated

A panel of federal judges has blocked the administration from easing clean air standards.  Interestingly enough, the unanimous 3 judge panel included Judge Janice Rogers Brown, appointed by President Bush last year.  (So much for the claims against liberal activist judges.)

ENS Link

WASHINGTON, DC, March 20, 2006 (ENS) - A federal appeals court on Friday blocked the Bush administration from implementing a regulation that would have eased clean air requirements for some 17,000 industrial facilities, including coal-fired power plants and oil refineries. The court handed down a stinging rebuke of the regulation, which it said is "contrary to the plain language" of the Clean Air Act.

A coalition of states and environmental groups had brought suit to block the 2003 regulation.  The regulation attempted to add to the exemption for equipment changes.

Congress devised the NSR program in 1977 to require owners of older industrial facilities to modernize pollution controls when they make modifications to facilities that result in increased emissions. ...The August 2003 Equipment Replacement rule expanded the NSR routine maintenance exemption to include equipment modifications that did not exceed 20 percent of the replacement value of the equipment, notwithstanding an increase in emissions.

But the court did not accept the EPA's attempt at justification.  Instead, the judges found that the regulation was contrary to existing legislation.  And the court uses some colorful language.

EPA's interpretation of the statute "would produce a 'strange,' if not an 'indeterminate,' result: a law intended to limit increases in air pollution would allow sources operating below applicable emission limits to increase significantly the pollution they emit without government review," according to the court.

"Only in a Humpty-Dumpty world," would the regulation be allowed under the existing statute the court said in its 20-page ruling. "We decline to adopt such a world view."

Humpty-Dumpty, I like it.

And of course, industry has the obligatory black is white quoute.

The ruling is "a step backwards for the protection of air quality in the United States," according to Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a trade organization group for electric utilities.


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