26 June 2002 19:18 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--A senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Wednesday that the Bush administration's overhaul of new source review (NSR) rules will give "more common sense" to plant modifications affecting pollution sources.
In a speech today at the Western Governors Association meeting, EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher said the agency's reforms will make the Clean Air Act's NSR provisions "perform more effectively."
Fisher said the NSR program has reduced emissions at new facilities, but "it has in some instances been a bit of a regulatory roadblock in achieving reductions at existing facilities."
The current NSR program, she said, "has caused some businesses, from the manufacturing sector to the energy sector, to forego projects that would make them cleaner, more efficient, and environmentally friendlier."
EPA's proposed NSR revisions will include controversial changes such as simplifying and streamlining the NSR routine maintenance and repair exclusion.
Because the current provisions are so complex, Fisher said, it is "very difficult" to determine what repair or maintenance activities meet or exceed the standard, thereby discouraging companies from making repairs that, if made, could reduce pollution.
The EPA official also said the agency will propose changes to the debottlenecking provision, clarifying how NSR will apply when a company modifies one section of a facility in such a way that output throughout the plant will increase.
Fisher characterised the current NSR requirements as "difficult and time-consuming."
The proposed NSR reforms, she said, "will improve its strength while eliminating the unnecessary barriers to modernisation and pollution prevention. It will mean cleaner, safer, and more productive power plants, factories, and refineries."
Although the administration's reforms are supported by the chemical industry and other manufacturers, they have been attacked by environmentalists as a major assault on the Clean Air Act.
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