EPA released for public comment a background paper on a 90-day review of its program for controlling new industrial and utility sources of air pollution.
The paper provides information on the electricity generating and petroleum refining industries. The paper has no conclusions or recommendations.
The program, called New Source Review (NSR), requires that an air pollution sources install the best pollution control equipment available when it builds a new facility or when it makes a major modification that increases emissions from an existing facility.
EPA said NSR was designed to ensure that new and modified sources do not impede progress toward cleaner air.
The agency said it recognizes that the NSR process is complex and burdensome both for affected companies and for state and local agencies responsible for implementing the program.
For several years, EPA has been exploring options designed to simplify the program, reduce the length of the review process and remove any barriers it may pose to innovation and improved energy efficiency.
In its May 2001 report, the energy task force headed by Vice President Cheney recommended that EPA, in consultation with other federal agencies, review NSR regulations to determine the impact of those regulations on investment in new utility and refinery generation capacity, energy efficiency and environmental protection.
The paper contains background information on the NSR program and asks for comments on whether the program should be changed to encourage more efficient use of our nation''s energy resources while maintaining air quality, according to EPA.
The final report, due to the President on Aug. 17, is expected to include recommendations on how to improve the NSR process.
The background paper and instructions for submitting comments are available at www.epa.gov/air/nsr-review.
Beginning Wednesday, separate meetings will be held with outside stakeholders, including affected industries, environmental groups and state and local governments.
Next month, EPA will hold public meetings to collect information and public comments in Cincinnati, Ohio; Sacramento, Calif.; and Baton Rouge, La.
by Virginia Sutcliffe