Bush Administration Planning to Relax Enviro Rules for Ethanol Industry

President Bush’s support of ethanol as a green alternative to gasoline has earned him two thumbs up from many environmental groups.

Unfortunately, it looks as though the administration isn’t bothering to suppress its fetish for relaxing environmental rules, and has quietly been planning to change the way ethanol plants are treated under the Clean Air Act, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune on Monday.

If the proposed rule takes effect—and all that requires is a notice in the Federal Register—the burgeoning ethanol industry would be able to emit more toxic air pollution than the law currently allows.

Existing clean-air rules consider ethanol plants as major sources of air pollution if they emit more than 100 tons of toxic chemicals a year. Those that do must go through an intensive--and time-consuming--permitting process. They also must install equipment that burns off most of the emissions.

Under the proposed changes, ethanol plants wouldn't be subject to the stringent federal requirements unless they spewed more than 250 tons of air pollution add2: per year. Most of the new refineries are expected to emit a few tons less than that.

The difference in emissions could be substantial, in part because the control equipment must reduce pollution levels by up to 95 percent. For instance, a plant that releases 200 tons of pollution could have to cut emissions to 10 tons under the current rules.

But that same plant would be required to do little if anything under the proposed changes.

“Ethanol is good for the environment,” Bush proclaimed during a speech in April. That may be, but this administration sure isn't.


Thanks for this. The local officialdom is planning to install an ethanol plant in our community. I'm taking this article to the public hearing Monday night.