OMB wants EPA to revisit NSR for power plants and refineries

By the OGJ Online Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 4, 2002 –The White House Office of Management and Budget wants to review and possibly rescind current rules that govern how power plants and refiners monitor stationary source pollution, according to a Dec. 21 report made available this week.

Congress required OMB to issue a report on the costs and benefits of federal regulations, with suggestions about rules that should be reviewed for effectiveness.

The list contained several environmental regulations, including the “New Source Review” for stationary sources of pollution. Other targeted rules included the new arsenic standard for drinking water and runoff guidelines for animal feeding lots.

Last month the Environmental Protection Agency signaled it would reform its enforcement of emissions from power plants and refineries under NSR. The agency also said it would work with Congress to develop rules to control a variety of smokestack emissions through proposed multipollutant legislation.

Congress is likely to consider NSR and multipollutant legislation this year because of the wide impact those two issues have across the energy sector, industry officials said.

Discussing NSR, Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, said, “I fully believe that a wide variety of people think it has to be reformed and administration has worked on that. They are making progress on this under the context of a multipollutant strategy.”

American Petroleum Institute President Red Cavaney said NSR is not just a power company issue. “There is an acknowledgement that a lot of things that were just routine maintenance were penalized,” he said.

Cavaney said many companies have halted changes at their plants, due to the large penalties EPA has levied on some firms. He said after EPA changed its enforcement practices it “caught” companies doing things they had done for 20 years without any objection from the agency.

Environmental groups said rescinding or changing NSR would exacerbate pollution and remove an incentive for industry to upgrade equipment. They also have been highly critical of OMB’s regulatory chief, John Graham. They allege he is pro-industry and has sought to weaken environmental regulations by misinterpreting the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Graham has maintained many regulations should be reexamined because they are too expensive to enforce or may not be in the public interest.

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