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EPA Bows to Court, Adopts Regulations to Discourage Dispersing Air Pollution

Associated Press

The Environmental Protection Agency, meeting a court-ordered deadline, on Thursday adopted new rules aimed at discouraging the use of tall smokestacks to disperse air pollution.

In the latest round of a 15-year battle, Charles L. Elkins, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for air pollution programs, said the rules could mean a reduction of up to 1.7 million tons of sulfur dioxide from utility stacks by 1995--about 8% of the current national total.

But a group of environmental organizations said the new rules might not reduce pollution.

“The policy is a hoax and the number is bogus,” said Richard Ayres, chairman of the Clean Air Coalition.

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The dispute centers on the extent to which tall stacks should be used to reduce ground-level concentrations of sulfur dioxide below standards set by the Clean Air Act.

Tall stacks reduce ground-level pollution by spreading the sulfur dioxide over a greater distance, but environmentalists contend that the stacks also generate more acid rain.

The new EPA rules still allow tall stacks to be built, but tall stacks will no longer be counted as pollution-reduction measures.

Ayres and colleague David Hawkins said Thursday that the computer model used by the EPA to predict pollution reductions was inadequate.

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