Energy & Environment

Trump aims to ease compliance with air pollution rules

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President Trump is directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take numerous steps to ease companies’ and states’ compliance with a key air pollution program.

In a new presidential memorandum addressed to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Trump is formally asking the EPA to endeavor to make decisions on company and state compliance by certain deadlines.

Trump also wants the EPA to prioritize taking into account factors that could increase air pollution and make it harder for states to comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).


Some states and industries have argued that pollution that blows in from other countries and “exceptional events” like wildfires and dust storms should not be counted when determining air quality, since they are outside the states’ control.

The memorandum is meant to fulfill Trump’s and Pruitt’s promises to help manufacturers, power plants and other facilities.

“This memorandum helps ensure that EPA carries out its core mission, while reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing,” Pruitt said in a Thursday statement.

“International and background sources of air pollution are critical issues facing state, local, and tribal agencies implementing national standards. The president’s leadership will guide our agency’s continued commitment to proper implementation of the Clean Air Act.”

NAAQS is a pillar of the nation’s clean air laws, meant to reduce harmful levels of pollutants like ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.

The EPA must regularly review whether to make air quality standards more stringent. States then must determine how to clean their air, and companies then might have to reduce their pollution, a potentially costly task.

Under Trump’s memo, EPA is instructed to try to abide by new deadlines for reviewing state compliance plans, companies’ construction permits and paperwork related to factors that increase air pollution but are outside states’ control, like disasters or international pollution.

Trump also wants the EPA to prioritize cooperation with states on compliance decisions, make sure states are taking advantage of factors that could reduce their burdens and improve pollution monitoring and modeling that could benefit states or companies.

American Forest & Paper Association cheered the memorandum.

“We applaud this initiative for EPA to use modern permitting tools, such as probabilistic approaches to ensure permit decisions reflect real world conditions, as well as sensible offset policies for rural areas so beneficial projects can proceed. Doing so will support our industry’s contribution to economic growth and create American manufacturing jobs,” said Donna Harman, the group’s president.

Tags Air pollution Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt
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