Judges Overturn Bush Bid to Ease Pollution Rules – New York Times

smokestacks.jpgThis is the NY Times headline, not mine!

Judges Overturn Bush Bid to Ease Pollution Rules – New York Times

But on Friday, the court said the agency went too far in 2003 when it issued a separate new rule that opponents said would exempt most equipment changes from environmental reviews — even changes that would result in higher emissions.

With a wry footnote to Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass,” the court said that “only in a Humpty-Dumpty world” could the law be read otherwise.

“We decline such a world view,” said their unanimous decision, written by Judge Judith W. Rogers, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. Judges David Tatel, another Clinton appointee, and Janice Rogers Brown, a recent Bush appointee, joined her.

The winners this time —more than a dozen states, including New York and California and a large group of environmental organizations — hailed the decision as one of their most important gains in years of litigation, regulation and legal challenges under the Clean Air Act.

The provision of the law at issue, the “new source review” section, governs the permits required at more than 1,300 coal-fueled power plants around the country and 17,000 factories, refineries and chemical plants that spew millions of tons of pollution into the air each year.

The proposed rule would have allowed powerplants to avoid putting new controls in as long as the cost of equipment did not exceed 20% of the replacement cost of the plant. Fuzzy math, anyone! This would have let to major incentives to not build new plants using cleaner technology, but keep the “grandfathers” running. A lot of the old plants were exempted from some of the strict controls by being grandfathered into the act. Well, call me cruel, but grandfathers eventually die! I thought of this proposed rule as the “Bionic Grandpa” provision! Glad that the courts did not like it.

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