Bush, Southern Co.: Clean air, shmean air

Last week, the Bush administration blew smoke in the face of the environment when it postponed deciding whether to force power companies to upgrade pollution controls at power plants. ?

Postponing the decision has the same effect as scrapping the New Source Review (NSR) program altogether. The NSR program requires power companies to upgrade pollution controls when they increase productivity at power plants.?

Southern Co. and seven other utilities were sued by the Department of Justice in 1999 for violating NSR rules.?

If Southern settled that lawsuit and upgraded its plants, as other defendants have done, it would have reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 892,000 tons and nitrogen oxide emissions by 242,000 tons, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.?

But now that the NSR program remains in limbo, the chances of the lawsuit leading to cleaner air in Georgia, where air from power plants contributes to 38,300 asthma attacks a year, are slim to none.

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