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Court Blocks Changes To Clean Air Act

A federal appeals court on Wednesday blocked new Bush administration changes to the Clean Air Act from going into effect, in a challenge from state attorneys general and cities that argued they would harm the environment and public health.

The Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites) rule would have made it easier for utilities, refineries and other industrial facilities to make repairs in the name of routine maintenance without installing additional pollution controls.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (news - web sites) for the District of Columbia issued an order that blocks the rules from going into effect until the legal challenge from the states and cities is heard, a process likely to last months.

... "When it comes to environmental policy, this court decision is as big a success as we've had in stopping the Bush administration from undercutting the Clean Air Act," [New York attorney general Elliot Spitzer] said.

Environmentalists are all excited about this, and it is good news (though I wonder whether the stay will have much effect -- I would imagine most power plants would just postpone upgrades until after the decision in the hope that the EPA will win, rather than going ahead with making them, and the accompanying pollution reductions, now). But it says something about the quality of environmental protection under Bush that a court postponing a rule change while it reviews a challenge can be described as "as big a success as we've had."


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