Environment

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New EPA Rules Allow Power Plants Near National Parks

May 20, 2008 09:02 AM
by Cara McDonough
Critics say the new regulations are part of the Bush administration’s eight-year assault on the environment, but the EPA says the measures will help regulate emissions.

30-Second Summary

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The new rules, proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would rewrite a portion of the Clean Air Act that deals with “Class 1 areas,” federal lands that have the highest protection under the law, reports The Washington Post.

Despite objections from some of its own staff members, the EPA recommended rewriting the current law a year ago, “on the grounds that the nation needed a more uniform way of regulating emissions near protected areas,” according to the story.

The Bush administration is expected to approve the new rules, which could be in place as soon as this summer.

Opponents say it could worsen visibility at many of the country’s most popular tourist destinations by increasing already present smog.

The National Parks Conservation Association has issued a report that estimates new plants built near national parks could emit a total of 122 million tons of carbon dioxide, 79,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 4,000 pounds of toxic mercury in the next 50 years.

But Jeffrey R. Holmstead, who helped initiate the rule change while heading the EPA's air and radiation office, said 2005’s Clean Air Interstate Rule will keep smog in check.
“What you want to do is reduce the total amount that comes out of these power plants,” Holmstead said. “There’s no Class 1 area in the country that is only affected by a nearby power plant.”

The rules come as George W. Bush nears the end of his term, but “a lame-duck administration can still make life difficult for waterfowl and other living creatures,” writes columnist Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Headline Link: ‘Clean-Air Rules Protecting Parks Set to Be Eased’

Opinions & Analysis: The administration’s final blows

Background: Bush and the environment

Related Topic: Environmental politics

Reference: National Parks, 2008 candidates’ environmental records

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