In an agency memo, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt gifted industry another regulatory shortcut by rolling back a technical but powerful clean air safeguard. The rule requires facilities to install updated pollution-control equipment if they substantially increase their emissions. But now, thanks to Pruitt, facilities can use an accounting trick called “netting” by adding up all contemporaneous emissions—increases and decreases—from the facility to make it seem as if there has been no substantial net emissions increase. This then allows them to evade the rule on paper, while additional pollution (in the thousands of tons) is released into our air. The Bush administration tried this same gimmick, but NRDC and others reminded them that move is in obvious violation of the Clean Air Act. Pruitt’s decision is illegal, too, which is likely why he chose to make the change via an EPA memo. Doing so bypasses the comment period—and the best interests of the public.
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