21 October 2002 22:54 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--Two US senators have asked the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to require more extensive analysis on proposed revisions to the Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) enforcement program, CNI learned Monday.
In a letter to OMB official John Graham, Senators James Jeffords (Independent-Vermont) and Joseph Lieberman (Democrat-Connecticut) said the proposal has changed significantly since it was first offered in 1996 by the Clinton administration.
The senators said the body of scientific knowledge about air pollution has also expanded since then.
OMB already is reviewing a plan by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make the rules more flexible so that companies can expand capacity and make plant modifications without triggering the NSR requirements.
NSR requires companies to install modern pollution control equipment any time they upgrade or modify a plant in a manner that increases emissions. Industry groups have long argued that the program is so costly and cumbersome that it discourages modernisation of older facilities.
The EPA plans to publish the proposed revisions as a final rule as soon as OMB completes its review.
But Jeffords and Lieberman said the public should have a greater opportunity to comment on the changes. They also want EPA to conduct new analyses of the environmental and public health impact of the plan before publishing the final regulation.
The EPA has said a regulatory analysis conducted by the Clinton administration supports its conclusion that the reforms would have no adverse impact on the environment.
But the two senators said that review is "grossly deficient" and "offers no analytical justification for concluding that the exemption of 50% of major sources from the NSR program would not be environmentally harmful."
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