Reported by the Wall Street Journal as a response to “pressure from some states, industry and Congress,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is planning to relax a power-plant air pollution rule. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, issued in June, “is intended to reduce smog-forming chemicals emitted from power plants that often drift into other states.” The Journal implied that the life-saving rule is being changed because of polluter-industry pressure:
The move comes amid a backlash over the rule, which the EPA has said will protect public health and prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths. Critics contend it will cost jobs, increase power costs and threaten electric reliability.
A piece from Reuters explains that the change, which will increase permitted emissions by about 1 to 4 percent, is a technical adjustment “likely based on updated information on emissions from local governments.” In other words, the limits are determined by a formula that takes into account health standards and reported emissions. With better information on local pollution, the allowed limits change.
“Folks may try to make this into something it isn’t, but these kinds of changes are made all the time,” an Obama administration official told Reuters. “It’s how the Clean Air Act works.”
Reuters found that policy experts agreed, regardless of what they consider the risks of pollution.
“I don’t see this as a retreat at all,” said Frank O’Donnell, the president of Clean Air Watch, and a supporter of stronger air pollution standards. “Typically this wouldn’t raise an eyebrow because it happens all the time.”
“It looks like they are tinkering around the edges, not making big changes,” Donna Nelson, the chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, told Reuters. Nelson opposes the stronger standard.