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Inspector General’s Report on New Source Review (NSR) Rule Change

Release Date: 09/30/2004
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(09/30/04) EPA fundamentally disagrees with the Inspector General’s report because it misleads the public about Agency actions to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants. We vigorously enforce the Clean Air Act and have an aggressive plan to achieve immediate and dramatic pollution reductions from coal-fired power plants. The Inspector General’s report misses both points.

We will continue to pursue existing NSR enforcement cases, and we will bring new cases. We have seven cases against coal-fired power plants in active litigation, three of which will come to trial in the next 12 months. We settled one case this year and yesterday issued a new Notice of Violation against three coal-fired power plants operated by a Midwestern company. Many more cases are in active development.

More importantly, EPA’s focus is results – cleaner air and healthier lives for every American. The critical flaw of the Inspector General’s report is to completely dismiss the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) which will be finalized this fall. With a stroke of the pen, the Administrator will mandate a nine-million-ton reduction in emissions from coal-fired power plants, more than three times the emissions reductions from NSR enforcement estimated in the Inspector General’s report.1 The Clean Air Interstate Rule will mandate a 9.1 million ton reduction of SO2 and NOx compared to 3.0 million tons of the same pollutants with NSR as estimated by the Inspector General’s report.

And like the tremendously successful Acid Rain program, pollution reductions under CAIR will begin immediately with near-perfect compliance. It is a self-implementing enforcement tool that wins nearly every time.

NSR enforcement, while necessary and important, is a blunt tool that will never achieve the across-the-board reductions that the Acid Rain program has done and that CAIR will continue. The report misses the mark, misleads rather than enlightens the public, and portrays a superficial and inaccurate characterization of Agency policies.

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1 The Clean Air Interstate Rule will mandate a 9.1 million ton reduction of SO2 and NOx compared to 3.0 million tons of the same pollutants with NSR as estimated by the Inspector General’s report.