On May 13, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Carol M. Browner referred the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC's) open-access rule, Order 888, to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). In effect, Browner has asked the Clinton Administration to intervene in the restructuring process.
Browner feels that under certain circumstances the open-access rule could lead to future increases in air pollution. She believes these impacts can be minimized through a combination of actions by EPA and states under the Clean Air Act (CAA). If those actions are unsuccessful, she would suggest action on FERC's part.
While she appreciates EPA's endorsement of Order 888 and its finding that the rule is unlikely to have any immediate adverse environmental impact, FERC Chair Elizabeth A. Moler finds the referral "a wholly inappropriate mechanism," especially in light of the FERC's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on Order 888, which predicts only slight impacts on the environment. Moler continues to view the CAA as the preferred path for dealing with nitrogen oxide (NOx) problems should the Ozone Transport Assessment (OTAG) process fail to resolve itself. Once the CEQ has reviewed the open-access rule, the FERC plans to formally respond to the referral by order. (em LB
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