Hearing Explains New Federal Air Pollution Rules

Hearing Explains New Federal Air Pollution Rules

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- To answer skeptics of new federal air pollution rules, Utah officials are holding a public forum Tuesday to compare the potential impacts on the state's air quality with current rules.

State regulators intend to adopt the new rules for about 30 larger-scale air-polluters in January, despite complaints that the changes might increase pollution.

Rick Sprott, director of Utah's Divison of Air Quality, said the Salt Lake City forum will give the public a chance to study real-world outcomes.

In November, members of the Utah Air Quality Board requested a study of the regulations, known as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New Source Review rules. At the same time, the board went forward with the state's proposal to adopt the new regulations so that Utah can meet an EPA deadline in January.

EPA's stated purpose is to make sure that power plants and other air polluters keep their emissions as low as possible even as their operations expand. Environmentalists accuse the Bush administration of weakening safeguards, making it possible for the oldest, dirtiest plants to add power-generating capacity without concern for the additional pollution that they would generate.

Environmentalists and board members are worried about EPA's proposal.

The rules have been contested ever since they were proposed three years ago. The EPA's approach has been undermined by reports that polluting industries had a big role in writing the regulations at the invitation of Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force.

An analysis by environmental groups also shows the new regulations will increase pollution in 13 states.

This first batch of regulations - another two or more are expected in light of recent court decisions - applies in Utah to about 30 of the state's largest plants, including Nucor Steel, U.S. Magnesium and the oil refineries of North Salt Lake refineries.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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