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December 04, 2019

Inhofe Praises EPA Action to Improve the NSR Permitting Program

Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) senior member of the Environmental and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released the following statement supporting the actions taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clarify and improve New Source Review (NSR) permitting requirements.

“For too long, New Source Review permitting requirements stifled job creation, hampered innovation and slowed the ability to modernize critical energy infrastructure. Worse, in previous administrations, the permits were weaponized, so liberal activists could delay key projects,” said Inhofe. “New Source Review hasn’t been updated in over four decades—making it hard to integrate new technologies into our energy infrastructure. I’ve worked for years to modernize the review process, and applaud today’s action by President Trump and Administrator Wheeler to streamline the NSR permitting process.”

“NSR reforms are a key component of President Trump’s agenda to revitalize American manufacturing and grow our economy while continuing to protect and improve the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “NSR regularly discouraged companies from investing in and deploying the cleanest and most efficient technologies. Through the Trump Administration's efforts, EPA is providing clarity to permitting requirements, improving the overall process, and incentivizing investments in the latest energy technologies.”


Background Information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing several actions to clarify and improve New Source Review (NSR) permitting requirements. These Clean Air Act actions are part of a suite of measures EPA is taking to modernize and streamline the NSR process, without impeding the Agency’s ongoing efforts to maintain and enhance the nation’s air quality. These actions will improve regulatory certainty and remove unnecessary obstacles to projects aiming to improve the reliability, efficiency, and safety of facilities while maintaining air quality standards.

In November, Sean Alteri, Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, testified that streamlining the NSR permitting process would still protect air quality:

Inhofe: Mr. Alteri, as you know that states are the primarily regulator of the New Source Review program. Your testimony highlighted that since 2008 Kentucky has issued more than 25 New Source Review permits. But,  during that time it appears you've also seen this program used by activist to delay important projects that would improve both environmental quality and modernization of facilities.

Mr. Alteri, would you agree that it is possible to protect air quality while also streamlining the NSR permitting? And would you agree that the GAIN Act balances those interests?

Alteri: I think it does, but I think during this conversation it has raised the issues relative to who else it would affect. But I think if you have an opportunity to improve energy efficiency at existing coal-fired units, I think you do have the opportunity to reduce pollution without triggering NSR and costly litigation.

Inhofe has led the effort to reform New Source Reviews, including supporting those proposed by President George W. Bush. When chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe introduced the Clear Skies Act, which would reform NSR. He’s regularly discussed the importance of reforming and streamlining the NSR process during EPW hearings.

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