EPA Pushing For Biggest Increase In Air Pollution In U.S. History

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The Natural Resources Defense Council says the move "drastically weakens" protections against hazardous air pollutants.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Thursday that it is issuing new regulatory guidance on "major" contributors to air pollution. The new guidance undoes the "once in, always in" policy that requires any facility determined a "major" source of air pollution to remain in that designation even if it made improvements to cut down on emissions.

The EPA argued that the “once in, always in” standard disincentivized companies from reducing pollution and targeted it as part of the Trump administration’s overarching goal of cutting regulatory burdens.

Repealing the guidance, which has been in place since 1995, is seen by some as opening the door to greater levels of air pollution. The Natural Resources Defense Council immediately criticized the move:

“This is among the most dangerous actions that the Trump EPA has taken yet against public health,” John Walke, the group’s clean air director, said in a statement. “This move drastically weakens protective limits on air pollutants like arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins that cause cancer, brain damage, infertility, developmental problems and even death. And those harmed most would be nearby communities already suffering a legacy of pollution.”