Court rules against EPA for clean air

The EPA doesn’t seem to want to protect the environment with this defense.

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday rejected a rule change proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that would have allowed older power plants, factories and refineries to avoid installing anti-pollution devices despite being required to do so by the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit, brought by 14 states and several cities, marks a huge victory against President George W. Bush’s flawed environmental policies. When the EPA is lobbying for less pollution control, something definitely is wrong.

The three-judge appeals panel concluded that the intent of the Clean Air Act was to require the older plants to upgrade, adding pollution control devices whenever they made modifications, and the panel’s opinion said only Congress could authorize changes to the act. It remains to be seen whether Bush will try to push such a change through Congress or if the EPA will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Bush’s administration has a long history of combating efforts to clean up the air. The president’s outright rejection of the Kyoto Protocol put him firmly in bed with big business and industry lobbyists, and this appalling attempt to undermine the Clean Air Act through the EPA is no different. Thankfully, the court recognized the blatant disregard for the law and the environment in its wise decision by dismissing the claims that the proposal would not worsen pollution as the baloney it is.

Industry lobbyists claim the Clean Air Act is a step backward for air quality because it discourages modernization of plants. But this is a lame excuse for not following the rules: Sooner or later, most of the plants’ equipment will need replacing, and all of the approximately 800 power plants and 17,000-plus factories affected will be producing less pollution. It might be a slow process, but it will be effective. The lobbyists are arguing only to save money immediately rather than investing in better equipment for the future.

As energy costs rise, there always will be trade-offs between cost and cleanliness. But without some firm regulation, the former will take over and the latter will be disregarded. For now, at least one federal court agrees.