EPA seeks to overturn Bush-era clean air rule

NSR requires industrial facilities like power plants to install new anti-pollution technology when the owners undertake major modifications that increase emissions. But exactly what degree of modifications should trigger the requirements has been a controversial question for years.

EPA wants to scrap the Jan. 15, 2009 rule on “aggregation,” under which various modifications must be “substantially related” to trigger the emissions control requirements.

EPA’s current bosses argue the Bush-era rule was written in a way that would allow too many plant overhauls to occur without addition of new controls.

“EPA is proposing to go back to its original policy, which required combining projects based on a broader range of factors. This would ensure that potential emissions increases that could harm air quality do not avoid review and the installation of state-of-the-art pollution controls,” EPA said in a statement today.

EPA is taking comments on its plan to revoke the Bush-era rule. EPA’s action Tuesday stems from a Natural Resources Defense Council petition to reconsider the aggregation rule.

Tuesday’s proposal is among several Obama administration efforts to alter Bush-era environmental rules. For instance, in January EPA proposed to toughen smog standards issued under the prior administration.