Latest News

Take A Good Deep Breath

November 25, 2002

Radical environmentalists blowing smoke on EPA rule change

Open Letter or Guest Commentary

(As presented at a meeting of the Transportation Committee of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors on Monday, November 25 and then later that night at the Republican County Committee meeting in Leesburg)

I have asked Supervisor Jim Burton and my collegues on the Board of Supervisors to balance the propaganda of last week's scare tactics with the truth.

I have put forward a motion to request an expert or qualified staff review (not Mr. Burton) of the Bush Administration improvements, not a lifting of restrictions, on power plant regulations.

The Board refuses to act to correct the lies presented to the Board of Supervisors and the public. I have been mocked by Supervisor Harris. And my request to gather information presented at a Transportation Committee meeting, is ignored by Supervisors Bogard and Kurtz.

I appeal to the full board and appeal to the public for fairness.

Our Board of Supervisors has refused my requests for balanced views towards those who disagree with them in our own community and as far as Richmond , so I am not surprised when they collectively allow our country's President, George W. Bush, to be accused of "killing people, " without allowing some balance.

I am not commenting here on car emissions but the inaccuracy and lack of balance in describing the regulations concerning power plants. I am not questioning Mr. Burton's intentions or his devotion or that of my collegues. I am opposing the lack of will to balance the rampant fear mongering about air quality with a look at where a third or more or all daily pollution comes from: power plants (171 tons of pollutants a day come from power plants, according to Mr. Burton himself).

I believe my board collegues know exactly what I am getting at here but refuse to concede that "car pollutants" and "power plant pollutants" have wrongfully been pushed together as one.

If you happened to open last week's published accounts in several (Leesburg Today or Loudoun Times-Mirror) newspapers you probably thought we were all about to die. Supervisor Jim Burton, speaking at an environmentalist conference, claimed that a recent EPA rule change will kill scores of people and make northern Virginia's air too filthy to breathe( Footnote 1).

So what exactly was Supervisor Burton complaining about? It seems that after a 10-year process of proposals, hearings and studies, the EPA has finalized a Clinton administration proposal that would encourage plants and factories to implement cleaner technologies and more environmentally friendly equipment.

Under the 1977 "New Source Review" regulations manufacturers were forced to wade through piles of paperwork, jump hundreds of regulatory hurdles and cut through mountains of red tape in order to make any "major modification" to their facilities. The unintended result was that the regulatory burden stopped years of research and improvement into increased efficiency and cleaner operations from being implemented at thousands of plants and factories nationwide.

For years, environmental experts criticized the regulations, pointing out that they were, in fact, regulating away cleaner air, and demanded a rule change.


The Progressive Policy Institute, a research arm of the Democratic Leadership Council, went even further, asking that the NSR regulations be abolished completely( foot note 2).

That's right. The EPA regulations stopping the use of cleaner equipment were so burdensome, even Democrats were calling for deregulation!

Responding to calls for cleaner air, the Clinton administration pushed ahead with a proposal to alleviate the regulatory burden, a rule that the Bush administration finalized. Under the new rule, approved last Thursday, plants will be allowed more freedom to renovate and implement cleaner technologies, so long as they adhered to strict air-quality standards.


In announcing the rule change, the EPA said, "These actions will offer facilities greater flexibility to improve and modernize their operations in ways that will reduce energy use and air pollution, provide incentives to install state-of-the-art pollution controls and more accurately calculate actual emissions of air pollution." Despite misleading reports that this was entirely a Bush administration decision, the EPA notes "the final rule improvements are the culmination of a 10-year process ( footnote 3).

But rather than celebrate a hard-fought victory for cleaner air, Supervisor Burton and his radical environmentalist ilk, out of power after this month's congressional elections, are shamelessly exploiting fear and spreading their own noxious brand of oral pollution in a desperate attempt to gain political traction.

"How do you measure cost benefits against an asthmatic's early death?," wailed Burton in a story that claimed the 10-year-old change to plant-modification rules was "the Bush administration's recent move to ease clean air regulations for industry."

Oddly enough, Supervisor Burton spends a lot of his time on the county microphone complaining about coal-burning plants in the Ohio Valley that are the source of 80 percent of northern Virginia's air pollution. You can imagine my surprise when he expressed rage at the approval of the Clinton-era proposal to implement clean-coal technology.

In response to my request for balance, he says the EPA statements are "Bush Administration spin."

We don't know why Supervisor Burton wants us to get rid of our cars, wants fewer parking spaces, force people onto mass transit, abolish SUVs and make everyone drive solar-powered Pepsi cans on wheels.

However, we do know he wants the power to control what we drive, where we go and how we get there.

His bizarre comments and blatant scare tactics reveal the true agenda of Loudoun's environmental community. When given a choice between supporting environmental reform, or terrorizing people into supporting their agenda, they'll take fear and deception any time.

Despite what Supervisor Burton thinks now that we have a Republican president, the new EPA reform makes it much easier for northern Virginia to reach air quality attainment by 2005. As more plants, such as those in the Ohio Valley, are allowed to implement new anti-pollution technology, the levels of and other air pollutants will drop.

The new anti-pollution reform does not rewrite or alter the Clean Air Act and does not allow new sources to be built without pollution controls. It is a long-demanded change to burdensome regulations that will speed up the implementation of cleaner-burning factories and plants.

Perhaps Supervisor Burton should look at the benefits of new anti-pollution environmental reforms before trying to find a political scare tactic in them.

Footnotes from Supervisor Delgaudio Speech:

(1) Leesburg Today story on Burton claims

(2) Democrat think tank wants NSR abolished completely

(3) EPA press release announcing the rule change

Supplemental notes:

Myths and Facts About NSR

Final NSR Improvement Rule

EPA Environmental Analysis of NSR Final Rule


Debunking the Doomsters!

Environmental fear mongers have succeeded in spreading their dismal visions of a poisoned, overpopulated, resource-depleted world spiraling down into ecological ruin.

In his new book, Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths, Reason Magazine Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey assembles some of the most respected researchers in the country to explode the myths behind these doom and gloom scenarios, and expose how the environmental movement uses false science to scare us to death and stymie progress.

News Archives