EPA's emergency rule issued this month that cited the coronavirus pandemic to temporarily ease requirements to check real-world pollution emitted by power plants had originally called for a broader and potentially permanent rollback.
The version released by EPA — which was changed after a White House review — has drawn praise from environmental advocates who have typically been critical of the Trump administration's moves. But that would not have been the case with EPA's original plan.
“It would have been a mistake and almost certainly would have caused environmental and public health groups and others to be very concerned and likely take some action if it had been broader,” said Janet McCabe, the Obama-era acting air chief at EPA.
The rule issued last week (Reg. 2060-AU85) was altered following criticisms from the White House Office of Management and Budget. The temporary change to long-standing emissions monitoring requirements comes amid the Trump administration’s broader deregulatory effort, which has drawn criticism for pulling back air quality rules as research around the world has pointed to connections between pollution and worsened public health effects from the Covid-19 pandemic.
This time at least, the Trump EPA’s critics say they can support the rule that EPA finalized given the unique circumstances.
“I could see myself having said yes to this kind of thing,” McCabe said.
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