The EPA repealed an air toxics rule Thursday, in a move that advocates charge will expose low-income communities and communities of color to even more toxic pollution in order to save polluters a relatively small amount of money. The repeal of what is known as the “once in, always in,” policy will allow major polluters to abide by less-stringent standards after taking steps to reduce their pollution. The repeal is just the latest in EPA’s effort to undo environmental protections.
In its announcement of the final rule, EPA estimated polluting industries will save $16 million next year because of the repeal — less than one-tenth of its expected savings when it proposed repealing the rule a year ago — and will result in up to 1,258 tons of hazardous air pollution every year. That pollution includes “some of the most potent carcinogens and neurotoxins,” according to John Walke, a senior attorney with NRDC. “It’s especially outrageous because it’s 100 percent gratuitous: these are plants that have been complying with 95 to 98 percent reduction obligations, with already-installed [pollution] controls, for decades. It’s the triumph of extreme ideology over public health, common sense and the law,” Walke told The Hill. (The Hill, E&E $, Law360 $)