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Media: Press Clips

Environmentalists say nitrogen oxide pollution increasings

April 23, 1999

By JIM VERTUNO
Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN — - At least one form of pollution from "grandfathered" industrial plants has increased by about 26 percent since 1995, which lessens the impact of promised voluntary reductions, environmentalists said Thursday.

A survey of state and federal environmental records released by Public Citizen and the Sustainable Energy & Protection Development (SEED) Coalition, studied the rate of nitrogen oxide emissions.

According to the report, grandfathered plants - those built before 1971 and currently exempt from state environmental regulations - increased smog-causing nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 31,000 tons from 1995 to 1998. The total increase of nitrogen oxide emissions from all plants over the same period was 58,074 tons.

The percentage of emissions increase by grandfathered plants was almost double that of permitted plants, said Peter Altman, SEED director.

Green groups have opposed a plan in the Legislature that will allow the grandfathered plants to voluntarily reduce emissions. The plan is supported by Gov. George W. Bush and has been approved by the Senate.

Environmentalists say the older plants should be forced into compliance right away. "The promised reductions are going to be negligible," Altman said. The report said Texas Utilities had the biggest increase in grandfathered nitrogen oxide emissions at about 22,000 tons. Texas Utilities, which has 20 exempt facilities, has volunteered to reduce emissions.

Texas Utilities spokesman Chris Schein attributed the rise in part to the heat wave that strangled Texas last year, forcing an increase in power output.

"It was the highest demand ever recorded," Schein said. "It was hot and Texans did not have to endure that. The totals are going to be somewhat higher.

"It's disheartening they are criticizing progress we are making. We are doing our best to step up and be leaders on this front," Schein said.

AP-WS-04-22-99 1853EDT

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