Vermont joins lawsuit over Clean Air Act rules change

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(Host) The state of Vermont plans to join a regional lawsuit to overturn new rules issued by the Bush administration. The rules exempt older power plants in the Midwest from provisions of the Clean Air Act.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The new rules, which were formally released last week, will allow older plants to increase their generating capacity without installing new pollution control devices.

Deputy Attorney General Wally Malley says the state of Vermont definitely plans to join a regional lawsuit to block the rules from going into place. Malley says the exemptions will have a detrimental impact on the state:

(Malley) “We’re one of many states that are downwind from some very large sources west of here and southwest of here. The only way we can have any input of our air quality here – when we’re talking about major sources out of state – is to get some protection on the national regulations that cover power plant emissions. So it’s a problem for us.”

(Kinzel) Malley says a number of older power plants were exempt from some of the provisions of the Clean Air Act because it was felt that it would be too expensive to retrofit the plants with pollution control devices. But he argues that the new exemptions go far beyond the original scope of the law:

(Malley) “When you get into a situation which is being proposed now, where there can be some very considerable improvements made in the plants which are increased emissions and which will totally escape additional permit reviews – why that’s a problem. That’s a problem for any of the downwind states and certainly a situation here in Vermont where our pollution is in many cases 99% coming from somewhere else.”

(Kinzel) Malley expects that the lawsuit will be filed just as soon as the new rules are formally published by the federal government.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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