EPA Trims Pollution-Control Costs

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) - Faced with stiff opposition in Congress and a court-ordered deadline, the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said it will make it much cheaper for companies to reduce toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators.

In an overhauled regulation obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its release, the EPA said it has found ways to control pollution at more than 200,000 industrial boilers, heaters and incinerators nationwide at a 50 percent cost savings to the companies and institutions that run them. That would save $1.8 billion and still avert thousands of heart attacks and asthma cases a year, the agency said.

These rules "put in place important public health safeguards...at costs substantially lower than we had estimated under our original proposal," Gina McCarthy, EPA's top air pollution official, said in a statement. EPA had put the initial cost at $3.9 billion. An updated jobs analysis completed by the agency shows the changes will create 2,200 jobs, and that doesn't include employment stemming from purchases of pollution-control technology.

The EPA said the cost savings for polluting industries is in line with President Barack Obama's Jan. 18 executive order to review regulations that hurt job growth.

Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have harshly criticized the EPA recently over the costs of a whole host of regulations, including the first-ever rules to control the gases blamed for global warming. At least a half-dozen bills have been introduced this year to block or curtail agency regulations, and House Republicans succeeded last week in attaching numerous anti-EPA measures to a bill aimed at funding the government for the rest of this fiscal year.

In the case of the boiler rule, EPA was under a court-ordered deadline to release a final regulation this week after a federal court in 2007 threw out regulations drafted by the Bush administration. …