and contribute to the modernization of American industry—all without damaging the environment. Opponents say the changes will slow progress in cleaning the nation’s air, thus damaging human health, and the changes are not necessary to provide flexibility (GAO 2004). (See Chapter 2 for a description of the NSR changes in the context of the CAA.)


Because of this controversy over the NSR changes, Congress mandated that EPA arrange for a study by the National Research Council (NRC) to assess potential impacts of EPA’s final rules of December 2002 and October 2003. The NRC was asked to assess changes in emissions of pollutants regulated under the NSR programs; impacts on human health; and changes in energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and pollution control at facilities subject to NSR. In response to the request, NRC established the Committee on Changes in New Source Review Programs for Stationary Sources of Air Pollutants (see Appendix A). The committee was asked to estimate and evaluate the amount of uncertainty associated with the effects being considered. It was also asked to identify and recommend additional data collection that would be necessary in future years to assess impacts. Congress asked that an interim report on the committee’s study be provided and that it include all conclusions and recommendations the committee determined to be feasible and appropriate at that stage in its study. The committee is providing this interim report in response. A final report will be provided at the end of 2005. (The congressional mandate for this study is in Appendix B and the committee’s full Statement of Task is in Appendix C.)

Congress did not ask the NRC to determine the desirability of the new NSR rules or to recommend whether they be revised or repealed. Such conclusions involve considerations that go beyond science and involve value judgments (for example, how to weigh environmental protection against other societal goals). Congress also did not ask the NRC to appraise the legality of the changes—that is, whether EPA acted within the scope of its authority and, if so, whether EPA’s decision was reasonable. That task falls initially to the United States Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is currently hearing challenges to the rules (State of New York v. Environmental Protection Agency, D.C. Cir. 02-1387 [challenging the 2002 rules], State of New York v. Environmental Protection Agency, D.C. Cir. 03-1380 [challeng-

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