In a technical but consequential rule change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just made it easier for industrial facilities, such as power plants, to increase air pollution like smog and soot—and avoid measures that limit emissions. The agency published a revision to its New Source Review process, a provision of the Clean Air Act that requires facilities to submit proposed changes that increase pollution significantly—like, say, installing new equipment—for review in order to assess and control emissions. No surprise here: The EPA adopted a loophole to let industrial facility operators claim that related pollution activities are unrelated, so that each individual activity’s pollution may be deemed minor and ignored. Meanwhile, total air pollution increases at the facility will be major and harmful—and Americans' health and air quality will suffer. Industry has long pushed for the change to avoid the responsibility (and cost) of controlling major air pollution increases. Lucky them: The EPA helped see it through.
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