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ENVIRONMENT REPORT - December 13, 2002: Bush Proposes to Ease Rules on Industrial Pollution - 2002-12-12

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

The Bush administration has announced new proposals designed to ease controls on industrial pollution. The proposals would permit older factories to put in modern equipment without requiring them to add costly anti-pollution devices. The Bush administration says the changes would lead to better energy use and decrease pollution. Environmental officials say the changes will cause more pollution.

Pollution from older factories has been linked to serious illnesses and early deaths in the United States. It has been a main target of long-term efforts to clean up the nation’s air.

The Clean Air Act of nineteen-seventy requires new factories and energy companies to use the most modern pollution control technology. But older factories are not required to honor the Clean Air Act unless they make major equipment changes.

The Bush administration’s decision deals with a provision of the Clean Air Act called the New Source Review. The New Source Review rules require all older factories to add pollution control devices whenever they make major equipment changes. The energy industry has sought to ease enforcement of the rules since President Bush took office.

Under the administration of President Clinton, the Environmental Protection Agency used the rules as a legal weapon against more than fifty older coal-burning factories in twelve states. It said the factories had made major equipment changes without adding modern pollution control devices.

The companies that own the factories said the Clinton administration was unfairly enforcing the New Source Review. Energy companies and others said the provision was making it difficult for them to put in modern equipment, including devices that would reduce pollution. They called for the government to change the New Source Review.

Bush administration officials say the New Source Review forces industries to obey rules that do not help reduce pollution. They say that easing parts of the law would help industries avoid legal battles when they make improvements. And they say it would permit industries to act aggressively on their own to find better ways to reduce pollution.

However, officials in several northeastern states said they would take legal action against the new rules.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.