Whatever You Say, Dear Coal Industry

A week ago Tom Toles of the Washington Post published a sketch of a cartoon he never quite finished–quite possibly because the story it meant to illustrate never made the papers. But it’s yet another jaw-dropping example of an administration pressuring the Environmental Protection Agency to do whatever its bedmate, in this case the coal industry, wants.

Just three years ago, you might recall, the Environmental Protection Agency considered dropping the requirement that coal-fired power plants upgrade their pollution control equipment when they upgrade their producing capacity. This is a long-standing requirement known as New Source Review (NSR). After an outcry, the EPA reinstated the requirement. But after the re-election of the Bush Administration, all that has gone by the boards.

Here’s the sketch by Toles:


A memo from the Natural Resources Defense Council to the press reveals:

The Bush administration itself formally rejected adoption of this industry-promoted approach as recently as 2002, on grounds that it "could lead to unreviewed increases in emissions that would be detrimental to air quality and could make it difficult to implement the statutory requirements for state-of-the-art [pollution] controls."

Just two months ago, the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., supported that contention in a decision that found the industry position would violate the Clean Air Act. The draft proposal obtained by NRDC reveals that the agency is planning to reverse course, adopting the approach that this binding court decision rejected. The resulting legal inconsistency is so extreme that the leaked draft obtained by NRDC contains a placeholder for EPA to figure out how to explain its rejection of the court’s reasoning.

There’s lots more, including a leaked memo from the chief of the Air Enforcement Division of the agency, Adam Kushner, explaining in detail why the new policy will render enforcement impossible.

What can you say? Amazing. Shameless. Disgusting. Sickening. Literally…


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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