McCabe article analyzes EPA’s weakening of air pollution rules for industry

A new article co-authored by Janet McCabe, director of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute, details how the Trump Administration is weakening one of the long-established cornerstones of the Clean Air Act to appease industry at the expense of public health.

Published by Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program (EELP), the article examines subtle actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the effectiveness of a permitting program called New Source Review (NSR), which is designed to ensure that new or expanding facilities use updated air pollution control technologies and meet all federal requirements.

McCabe teamed up with Joseph Goffman, executive director of Harvard Law School’s EELP, and William Niebling, a senior associate at the law firm Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, to write the legal analysis.

Historically, NSR has contributed to overall reductions in air pollution even as facilities expand. Recent changes and proposed changes, however, offer companies early off-ramps from pollution reduction obligations. These changes, among other polluter-friendly actions taken by the EPA, have coincided with a recent rise in air pollution in the US after years of improvement.

“One of the fundamental pillars of the Clean Air Act is that new and expanding factories should get permits before they increase air pollution in American communities. Permits ensure that facilities use required air pollution control equipment and practices to limit emissions and are an important tool for public awareness and accountability,” said McCabe. “A series of EPA proposals is whittling away at the underpinnings of this program. These proposals go far beyond streamlining and would excuse projects that will increase air pollution from important oversight and transparency.”

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