Environment & Science

EPA ends clean air policy opposed by fossil fuel interests

Photo by CaptainKimo.com via Flickr Creative Commons

The Trump administration is doing away with a decades-old air emissions policy opposed by fossil fuel companies, a move that environmental groups say will result in more pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued notice Thursday it is withdrawing the "once-in always-in" policy under the Clean Air Act, which dictated how major sources of hazardous air pollutants are regulated. Under the EPA's new interpretation, such "major sources" can be reclassified as "area sources" when their emissions fall below mandated limits, subjecting them to differing standards.

EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum says the change will "reduce regulatory burden for industries and the states." Wehrum previously worked as a lawyer representing oil, gas and coal companies.

Environmentalists say the move will dramatically weaken standards for smokestack emissions of arsenic, lead and mercury.