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Off Peak

EPA director steps down, and tells you why.
Fortnightly Magazine - April 1 2002

stopped, and we have filed no new lawsuits against utility companies since this Administration took office. We obviously cannot settle cases with defendants who think we are still rewriting the law.

The arguments against sustaining our enforcement actions don't hold up to scrutiny.

Were the complaints filed by the US government based on conflicting or changing interpretations? The Justice Department doesn't think so. It's review of our enforcement actions found EPA's interpretation of the law to be reasonable and consistent. While the Justice Department has gamely insisted it will continue to prosecute existing cases, the confusion over where EPA is going with the New Source Review has made settlement almost impossible, and protracted litigation inevitable.

What about the energy crisis? It stubbornly refuses to materialize, as experts predict a glut of power plants in some areas of the U.S. In any case, our settlements are flexible enough to provide for cleaner air while protecting consumers from rate shock.

Should we try to fix the problem by passing a new law? Assuming the Administration's bill survives a legislative odyssey in today's evenly divided Congress, it will end us right back where we started with new rules to write, which will then be delayed by industry challenges, and with fewer emission reductions than we can get by enforcing today's law. ...

By showing that powerful utility interests are not exempt, you will prove to EPA's staff that their faith is the Agency's mission is not in vain. And you will leave the American public with an environmental victory that will be felt for generations to come.

Sincerely,
Eric V. Schaeffer
Director, Office of Regulatory Enforcement

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