WASHINGTON-The Environmental Protection Agency will delete 11 percent of its existing pages of regulations and revise another 70 percent to make environmental protection faster and less expensive, it said on Aug. 2. The agency's plan stems from an EPA summary report to President Clinton, dated June 15 but not released to the public until later.
The administration's goal, the report said, is ``to reinvent existing regulations and eliminate those that are unnecessary to provide sound protection for human health and the environment.''
Among its stated goals are:
To streamline the New Source Review program, which sets air permitting requirements for new or rebuilt manufacturing facilities;
To allow states greater flexibility in developing enhanced vehicle inspection/maintenance programs;
To simplify the framework and operations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, including a redefinition of solid waste;
To propagate a ``negotiate, don't dictate'' approach to rulemaking; and
To encourage EPA-industry partnership programs, such as one in which several rubber companies participate to voluntarily reduce air toxics emissions.
Through regulatory reform, the administration plans to cut regulatory paperwork by 25 percent and cut compliance costs by more than $5 billion.
The EPA used auto repair shops that service auto air conditioning units as an example of how industry will benefit.
``For auto repair shop owners, the review is expected to result in more flexibility'' in how they remove auto A/C refrigerants, providing more economical, convenient options, the EPA said. ``The repair shops can tailor the process to meet their needs while still helping to protect stratospheric ozone from depletion.''
The EPA announcement came just two days after the House passed an appropriations bill for the agency that contained provisions severely curtailing its enforcement authority. President Clinton has threatened to veto the bill in its present form.
Of interest to tire dealerships that do auto service was a provision forbidding the EPA from using any of its funds to enforce the ``IM240'' vehicle inspection/maintenance testing procedures. Many states and auto repairers oppose the EPA's insistence on centralized, test-only testing centers.
Benefiting manufacturers and dealers alike was the provision against enforcing the storm water permitting rules under the Clean Air Act. Large companies must already undergo the detailed, expensive process to obtain storm water permits, and a final rule published in the Aug. 7 Federal Register brings smaller companies under those requirements as well.
Small business has been ``very upset'' over the operations of the EPA and OSHA, said Roy E. Littlefield III, the American Retreaders Association's government relations director, who charged that the agencies don't regulate uniformly.
Any curb on EPA or OSHA enforcement is welcome, agreed Peter J. Pantuso, vice president of public affairs for the Rubber Manufacturers Association. He said RMA members are ``very supportive'' of canceling storm water and ergonomics enforcement.
``We support all efforts to clean up and prevent toxic releases, and all our companies feel they're doing a good job on that,'' Mr. Pantuso said. ``But storm water permitting is nothing more than a hassle for most companies. . . .''