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EPA Announces New Rules on Industrial Growth in Clean Air Areas

[EPA press release - June 13, 1978]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued final rules required under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 which limit increases of air pollution in clean air areas of the country, EPA Administrator Douglas M. Costle announced today.

"These 'prevention of significant deterioration' regulations will help insure that clean air areas of the country remain clean and will provide the States with a mechanism for accommodating industrial growth within these areas," Costle said. "The rules require large new pollution sources such as factories and power plants which build in these areas to install the best available pollution control technology.

"Several features of these regulations are examples of our efforts to streamline new regulatory programs without sacrificing environmental objectives," Costle said. "EPA staff has undertaken a thorough analysis of the regulatory options available under the Clean Air Act Amendments to ensure that the approach we finally selected is cost-effective and consistent with our goal of maintaining clean air."

Costle pointed to three features of the regulation aimed at minimizing the costs of carrying out the program:

  • Opportunity for existing plant owners to remove modernization or expansion projects from detailed preconstruction review by reducing pollution from other sources at the plant site;

  • A review program which reduces the number of detailed preconstruction reviews from a potential 4,000 to about 1,600 per year with virtually no increase in pollution;

  • EPA assistance to States and localities in developing efficient mechanisms for allocating the State and local margin for clean growth which the program provides.

"The challenge in minimizing the costs of environmental programs is to avoid the knee jerk response of cutting back legitimate objectives in order to reduce costs," Costle said. "This approach may appeal to some because it is the easiest; but it is the wrong solution. With enough thought and hard work ways can be found to streamline our regulatory programs without lowering our environmental goals. I believe we have accomplished that in these new rules. Preserving the quality of our air where it is still clean is a major national objective. The vistas of the American West and other regions are a national treasure. These rules will protect this heritage with a minimum of regulatory costs."