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EPA Delays Pollution Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is delaying until September its assessment of whether the agency should change how oil refineries and power plants are regulated for clean air violations.

As part of the Bush administration's national energy plan, the White House had asked that the EPA look at Clean Air Act regulations to determine their impact on investment in new utility and refinery generation capacity, energy efficiency and environmental protection, Reuters reported.

A key issue is the federal rule known as "new source review," which requires state-of-the-art pollution control equipment be installed when a new refinery or power plant is built. The costly equipment is also required if an existing facility is modified or expanded in a way that significantly increases emissions.

The agency was to submit its assessment of whether to roll back the new source review rule to the White House by Friday, but will now release it in September as part of a broader legislative plan, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said.

Oil companies contend the threat of coming under new source review discourages them from building new refineries or expanding capacity at existing facilities. The Bush administration has said a lack of refining capacity has caused tight gasoline supplies and high fuel prices at the pump.

The EPA plans to submit legislation to Congress to replace some of the federal clean air rules that power plants must abide by with more simple emission targets for certain pollutants. Whitman told a Senate committee hearing last month that the multi-pollutant plan could eliminate the need to subject utilities to the new source review program.
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