EPA Passes Final Rule Allowing Major Polluters To Pollute More
President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule on Thursday that could reclassify many “major” polluters as minor ones, permitting facilities to follow less stringent standards for dangerous emissions like mercury, lead and arsenic.
- The EPA is changing a 1995 rule that held major emitters to more strict standards even when operators have taken steps to reduce their pollution, known as “once in, always in,” according to The Hill.
The agency estimated that the changes will result in up to 1,258 tons per year of additional emissions of hazardous air pollutants.
- John Walke, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the change “100 percent gratuitous” and said it will allow corporations to emit more of “some of the most potent carcinogens and neurotoxins.”
- Walke added: “These are plants that have been complying with 95 to 98 percent reduction obligations, with already-installed [pollution] controls, for decades. It's the triumph of extreme ideology over public health, common sense and the law.”
The EPA argues that the current policy reduces incentives for facilities to limit their air pollution while rescinding it encourages them to do so.
- EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the move will “further President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda by providing meaningful incentives for investment that prevents hazardous air pollution.”
- Walke accused Wheeler of “magical thinking”: “Is industry going to try and save money and pollute more or spend more money and pollute less? I think that question answers itself.”
When it first proposed the rule, the EPA estimated that about 3,900 emitters could be reclassified and subjected to weaker standards than before.
- The finalized rule does not indicate how many facilities could be reclassified, saying a number is difficult to reach given "the unique nature of each source’s decision process.”
- There are currently 7,183 facilities subject to the major source standards.