A Tough Environmental Policy

Article excerpt

The paper industry is only the nation's eighth largest, but it is the third largest polluter. It pours tons of dioxin and other toxic compounds into America's streams and rivers annually, as well as fouling the air. The Environmental Protection Agency has resolved to do something about it, and has developed both a novel and impressive program in response. It is called a cluster rule.

The rule aims at regulations that will set water and air pollution regulations in tandem, taking what the agency calls an "ecosystemwide" approach. The EPA expects its program will "virtually eliminate" all dioxin discharges and cut toxic air emissions by more than two-thirds.

Naturally, the paper industry doesn't like the plan. It claims it will be extremely expensive. Though the EPA disputes the industry's numbers, it concedes that requiring $4 billion in capital investments and $600 million in annual expenses may force some producers with older plants to shut down.

Unfortunate as that is, it appears there is no alternative if this longstanding and serious source of pollution is to be dealt with effectively. …