Independent Nat'l Academy of Public Administration Issues Major Challenge to Bush Administration Air Pollution Policies

Americans' Health Hurt by Rule Changes and Loopholes, Report Says;

Calls for Strengthening & Reform of "New Source Review" Provisions

WASHINGTON (April 21, 2003) -- A new report issued today by an independent, congressionally appointed body delivers a stunning critique of the central elements of Bush administration air pollution policy. Gaping loopholes created or expanded by the Bush administration are adversely affecting Americans' health, according to the new analysis released today by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).

"This is a verdict from a neutral body tasked by Congress to evaluate EPA actions representing core elements of the Bush administration air pollution plan," said John Walke, attorney and Clean Air director at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). "What they found is these policies are hurting public health. This report is a major rebuke to the Bush administration's campaign to turn the Clean Air Act into a loophole bonanza for industry."

The NAPA report assails Bush administration efforts undermining a legal provision called New Source Review (NSR), which is the main public health safeguard that requires power plants and other industrial polluters that are "grandfathered" from existing emissions limits to meet modern pollution standards whenever facilities are overhauled or upgraded in a way that would increase pollution.

NAPA is an independent, congressionally chartered organization dedicated to improving the performance of governance systems-the network of public institutions, nonprofit organizations, and private companies that share in the implementation of public policy. Click here for their complete report.

The new criticisms echo charges by state officials, public health and environmental groups including NRDC that the Bush administration's air pollution policies are failing to protect public health, weakening important clean air safeguards, and providing industry with multiple, expanding loopholes to avoid control of dangerous air pollution. Such policies put industry profits ahead of American public health.

Key findings of the NAPA report:

  • Criticizes multiple rule changes adopted by the Bush administration to weaken air quality and public health protections;

  • Attributes thousands of premature deaths and acute and chronic illnesses to industry avoidance of NSR requirements, facilitated by inappropriate EPA loopholes;

  • Says NSR rule changes proposed by the Bush administration would expand a loophole that industry has already abused. The report says the Bush proposal will not improve environmental protection, and will thwart Congressional intent;

  • Condemns key features of the Bush administration's air pollution legislation for power plants, including its refusal to control carbon pollution, the main cause of global warming.

The NAPA report calls on Congress to require every large source of industrial pollution to clean up as soon as possible, but by no later than within the next 10 years. The expert panel recommends an end to this "grandfathering" from modern pollution control measures based on findings that industry has abused the status, exploited loopholes in EPA's regulations, and skirted pollution controls necessary to protect public health.

"The Bush administration has given these polluting companies one loophole after another to help them avoid the steps we need to protect ourselves from dangerous chemical emissions," Walke said. "It is simply inexcusable that power plants and factories built before the first Earth Day over 30 years ago still have not cleaned up their act. The Panel is to be commended for recognizing that these grandfathered behemoths have been too dirty for too long and are causing too much harm to the American people."

NRDC hailed NAPA's conclusion that performance requirements for power plants should be comprehensive and should include requirements to control the heat-trapping carbon pollution that causes global warming. The power plant plan proposed by the Bush administration ignores global warming emissions, and weakens safeguards required under the Clean Air Act for other pollutants.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related NRDC Pages

The Bush Administration's Air Pollution Plan

The Bush Record: Power Plant Pollution