EPA made a major announcement on June 13, 2002 that the broad-based New Source Review (NSR) program, intended to encourage emission reductions from major new sources of air pollution, will be abandoned and replaced with a new program designed to support pollution prevention projects, energy efficiency improvements and investments in new technologies and modernization of facilities. This move spells good news for electrical facilities that gambled on EPA's political agenda to move away from enforcement and toward a more moderate initiative that would permit existing facilities to operate "as is" until a new approach is approved.
The idea of NSR is a relatively simple one: phase out older, dirtier technologies in favor of newer, cleaner ones. For the companies that have done this, the effects are impressive, often times realizing pollution reductions of greater that 90%. Conversely, when older and dirtier technologies are brought back to life or have extended life due to retrofit technologies, the purpose of NSR may not be met. This is especially concerning when the retrofit technology allows a facility to operate more efficiently and with greater throughput that potentially leads to increased pollutant loading even though the pollution per unit of output is decreased.