November 22, 2002
EPA to relax clean air rules for utilities and refineries

From today's Chron:

The Bush administration today eased clean air rules to allow utilities, refineries and manufacturers to avoid having to install expensive new anti-pollution equipment when they modernize their plants.

The long-awaited regulation issued by the Environmental Protection Agency was immediately attacked by environmentalists, state air quality regulators and attorneys general in several Northeast state who promised a lawsuit to try to reverse the action.

But EPA Administrator Christie Whitman rejected critics' claims that the changes would produce dirtier air. She said at a news conference that the changes will "encourage emission reductions" by providing utilities and refinery operators new flexibility when considering operational changes and expansion.

Bah. They'll do whatever is cheapest. If that happens to align with reduced emissions, fine. If not, that's the way it goes.

The changes were sought by the utility, coal and oil industries, and were the subject of months of review at the White House. The electric utility and coal industries were both major donors to Republicans for the 2002 and 2000 elections.

Electric companies and their employees contributed at least $11 million to the GOP in the 2001-02 election cycle, more than twice as much as they gave Democrats, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign finance.

Coal companies and their employees made at least $1.9 million in political contributions in that period, with more than $8 of every $10 going to Republicans, the center found.

Bush's 2000 presidential campaign was also a major beneficiary of the industries' largess. Several energy executives raised at least $100,000 each for Bush's campaign, and the energy industry, including electric and mining companies, gave more than $2.8 million.

Many of the fund-raisers and donors were members of Bush's transition team, weighing in on energy and environmental policy as the president set up his administration.

If any of this comes as a surprise to you, you haven't been paying attention.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 22, 2002 to National news | TrackBack