EPA Revokes Clean Air Policy, Allowing for More Pollution

Leave it to the Trump administration to find a new way to undermine the Clean Air Act. On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency threw out a policy pertaining to the way dangerous sources of pollution are classified. Moving forward, fossil fuel companies and the like won’t all be held to the current strict standards.

The policy, known as “once-in always-in,” required polluters like factories and power plants to be labeled as a “major source” once they were found to emit more than 10 tons of hazardous materials in a given year (or 25 tons of combined dangerous materials.)

A major source could not be downgraded after receiving this classification, to ensure they remained in compliance with environmental rules. Now, however, pollution-heavy sites will have the opportunity to get their emissions down and avoid as much oversight.

Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, presented this policy switch publicly. Before taking this governmental position, Wehrum was a lawyer for the fossil fuel industry. Coincidentally – and surely a coincidence is all it is – this newly scrapped rule has been strongly opposed by the fossil fuel industry. Lucky break!

Wehrum celebrated the fact that getting rid of the policy will “reduce regulatory burden for industries and the states.” That’s very much in line with Trump’s ongoing agenda of getting rid of regulations, as if they weren’t created to benefit the public’s wellbeing in the first place.

The conservative spin on getting rid of this policy is that it incentivizes factories and the like to bring down their emissions to get the government off their back. However, that opens the door for known polluters to get back to business after without nearly as much accountability.

Understandably, environmental groups are not buying the rhetoric that paints this deregulation as a victory for clean air. Since the rules require sites to use the best technology available to cut down on hazardous pollution, they will no longer be tied to a system that the Wall Street Journal reports reduces pollution from certain toxins by as much as 95 percent.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called the deregulation “among the most dangerous actions” coming from Trump’s EPA so far.

“This move drastically weakens protective limits on air pollutants like arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins that cause cancer, brain damage, infertility, developmental problems and even death,” said John Walke, head of the clean air division of NRDC. Walke vowed that NRDC would fight the EPA on this move.

Although Donald Trump has refused to address climate change, he has vowed to “promote clean air,” with his EPA director Scott Pruitt pledging to protect clean air even better than Obama did. Presumably, these promises were made because it sounds good and people of all political affiliations want clean, breathable air, but so far the Trump administration is doing nothing to keep these promises.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

64 comments

Sebastian J
Robert S. R4 months ago

Anyone here still gonna stump for Trump?

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Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Clare O
Clare O9 months ago

Any more fossil fuel cronies making laws that benefit fossil fuel?

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Clare O
Clare O9 months ago

Why is a lawyer for the fossil fuel industry given this job in the first place?

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Clare O
Clare O9 months ago

coincidence, er....

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Clare O
Clare O9 months ago

th

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Danuta W
Danuta W9 months ago

thank you for posting

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KimJ M
KimJ M10 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M10 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M10 months ago

Tfs

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