Clean air program getting the ax

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman will recommend Aug. 17 whether to scrap the agency's New Source Review program.

NSR requires older coal-burning power plants to update their emission controls whenever power companies expand power production at their plants.

CL's June 27 cover story, "The Power of Money," detailed how the Southern Co., energy trade groups and other electricity producers lobbied the White House to kill the NSR program. Now it looks like they've won.

Though the EPA has made no official comment, both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have reported that the agency will gut the NSR program so it will be less meddlesome for energy companies.

In 1999, the EPA filed lawsuits against Southern Co. and other leading power producers for violating NSR rules. If successful, those lawsuits would force the energy companies to reduce their air pollution emissions by tens of thousands of tons.

But with the demise of the NSR program looming, it's doubtful that any settlements would lead to cleaner air.??

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