WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is considering ways to allow many industrial facilities that emit at least one of 188 hazardous air pollutants to avoid having to comply with the most stringent technology controls to limit pollution. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, released the draft proposal Monday, two days before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meets to consider President Bush’s nominee, Bill Wehrum, to serve as head of EPA’s air office. NRDC noted in a statement that the proposal was drafted during Wehrum’s current tenure as acting head of that office. John Walke, NRDC’s clean air director, said the timing was not politically motivated. The agency’s current 1995 policy requires facilities that annually emit 10 tons or more of a single air pollutant or 25 tons or more of a group of pollutants to use the maximum achievable technology controls to lower their pollution, sometimes by up to 95 percent. A draft proposal would let oil refineries, hazardous waste incinerators, chemical plants and dozens of other types of facilities that drop below those annual thresholds to reclassify themselves as minor sources of pollution under the Clean Air Act’s air […]

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