Quote of the Day - Law and order is one of the stepes taken to maintain injustice. - A. Bonar Law
Air Pollution Control Enforcement Eased Back
The USEPA may drop investigations of coal-burning power plants, refineries and factories allegedly violating clean air laws.
An EPA official said senior agency managers were told earlier this week in Seattle to stop current investigations and enforcement work unless past activities violated the new, less vigorous air quality rules. If true, the retroactive application of new regs to possible past violations would be unprecedented.
Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT.) a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the instructions - attributed to J.P. Suarez, USEPA's enforcement chief - are of concern.
"First the administration weakens our clean air law, and now it won't enforce it," Jeffords said. "Instead of fighting pollution, this administration is at war with the Clean Air Act. Innocent bystanders, such as children, the elderly and the infirm, will be the principal casualties."
USEPA did not make Suarez available Wednesday but issued an agency statement. "As the agency has consistently stated, we are vigorously pursuing all filed cases and we will evaluate each pending investigation on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it will be pursued or set aside."
Eric Schaeffer, a former EPA civil enforcement chief who heads the Rockefeller Family Fund's Environmental Integrity Project, said the USEPA could drop investigations of more than 70 power companies and 50 other industrial facilities.
Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a group of power companies, said Schaeffer's characterization of the Seattle meeting is misleading. "All indications are that existing filed cases ... are being aggressively pursued by the federal government."
The Clinton administration sued 51 older power plants and forced installation of hundreds of millions of dollars of pollution-control equipment. About half the companies sued have since settled, eliminating about 7 million tons of pollutants annually.