04 September 2002 19:44 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--A leading US senator called Wednesday for Congress to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing new emissions reforms that he says would "worsen air pollution."
Senator John Edwards (Democrat-North Carolina) told a Senate hearing today that Congress should use its spending authority to stop EPA from implementing proposed reforms to the Clean Air Act's new source review (NSR) program.
The reforms, he charged, would make it easier for power plants, refineries, and manufacturing facilities to expand without installing new equipment to control emissions.
Edwards, who chairs the Senate Health, Education and Labor subcommittee on public health, said he and other Democrats may offer an amendment to EPA budget legislation that would prevent further action on the NSR reform proposal until its health impacts become clearer.
In June, EPA proposed changes in NSR regulations that would relax requirements for older power plants and factories to install modern pollution-control systems when plants are renovated.
Edwards said EPA has produced "zero analysis" on the health impacts of the proposed NSR changes, which he and other critics charge would increase emissions of hazardous air pollutants.
But Jeffrey Holmstead, EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation, testified that the revisions were first proposed and formally analyzed by the Clinton administration six years ago.
"Everything we are doing is well within the scope of what was proposed back in 1996," he said.
Holmstead said the NSR overhaul will allow companies to improve the efficiency of their facilities by removing obstacles that currently inhibit plant operators from undertaking environmentally beneficial projects, such as those that encourage emissions reductions and pollution prevention.
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