U.S. EPA to review emission rules for power plants

WASHINGTON, April 27 Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:12pm BST

WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday it would reconsider three rules issued under the Bush administration that affect how coal-fired power plants account for their air emissions.

Environmental groups said the Obama administration is moving to reverse several loopholes created by the EPA under the Bush administration.

"It's part of an ongoing effort by the EPA to clean up the polluter-dominated mess it inherited from Bush," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

The rules under review determine when and how coal-fired power plants account for air emissions that are not released through a stack, vent or other confined air streams; how they keep records on emissions; and how they account for air emissions associated with soot when obtaining a permit.

The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice and New Jersey's attorney general petitioned the EPA to take another look at the regulations.

"These new rules will undo some of the Bush administration's plans to undermine the new source review program so that old coal-fired power plants could evade stricter pollution controls when extending the life of the plant," said Dan Weiss, an energy expert at the Center for American Progress.

The EPA said it was reconsidering the rules to make sure the public has a chance to review any recent changes that would affect the new source review program. The program requires power plants and other industrial factories to install pollution-fighting equipment when ramping up output or upgrading facilities.

The agency said it will soon publish a notice in the Federal Register on changing certain aspects of each of the three rules. (reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by David Gregorio)

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