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Moving Toward a Cleaner, Safer, Healthier Environment

Clean Air

Improving New Source Review

While the New Source Review (NSR) program helps keep emissions low at new facilities, it has also been an obstacle to achieving improved efficiency at existing facilities, and to operating these plants more safely and reliably. In a 2002 letter to then-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, a bipartisan group of 26 senators wrote, "The NSR program needs to be clarified to adequately define the concept of 'routine maintenance' to avoid the regulatory uncertainty currently facing industry. Such clarification would allow companies to repair their facilities and maintain reliable and safe electric service for consumers and workers without being subject to the threat of Federal Government lawsuits for allegedly violating vague NSR requirements." The Nation's governors unanimously agreed on the need for reform at their annual summer meeting in 2001, and the Nation's environmental commissioners similarly agreed at the annual meeting of the Environmental Council of the States.

In 2002, EPA reviewed the NSR program and reported to the President with recommendations for its improvement. Several of these recommendations became final EPA rules in December 2002. The rules provide facilities with increased flexibility to improve and modernize their operations by taking steps that will reduce energy use and air pollution. The rules provide incentives to install state-of-the-art pollution controls and more accurately calculate actual emissions of air pollution. These improvements will remove confusing and unintended regulatory barriers to investments in energy efficiency and pollution control projects, while preserving the intended environmental benefits of the NSR program.

EPA also issued a rule in August 2003 to clarify the definition of "routine maintenance" - a key part of NSR. This clarification will remove the disincentives for owners and operators of power plants and manufacturing facilities to undertake routine maintenance, repair, and replacement activities that would improve safety, reliability, and efficiency of their plants. These reforms reflect longstanding, broad bipartisan consensus that the program needs to be improved. EPA's improvements will preserve NSR's intent and effectiveness, and not allow power plants to increase emissions past other Clean Air Act permitted limits, while removing unintended obstacles to investments in newer, cleaner, safer, and more efficient production processes. EPA will move forward with this rule following further review and successful resolution of pending litigation.



Cleaner Air

Addressing Global Climate Change

Cleaner Water

Cleaner Lands

Healthier Ecosystems

A Cleaner, Healthier World Community

Healthier People

President Bush’s Performance-Based FY 2005 Budget


September 2004