EPA Sets Deadline
For Anti-Pollution Plans
The Bush administration told 28 states yesterday that it will order specific pollution cuts from their power plants if state officials do not have their own plans by fall of next year to make the air cleaner for people downwind.
A new program the Environmental Protection Agency announced in March requires states in the East, South and Midwest, plus the District of Columbia, to reduce pollutants from power plants that form smog and soot and drift downwind.
The states, including Maryland and Virginia, have until September 2006 to submit plans for achieving the pollution reductions. If they miss that deadline, the EPA said, it will write the plans for them.
North Carolina and two advocacy groups, Environmental Defense and the Southern Environmental Law Center, sued the EPA, saying the state cannot meet federal air quality standards if upwind states do not clean up their pollution.
Jeff Holmstead, EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, said the agency's enforcement proposal will go a long way toward cleaning up the nation's air while ensuring that North Carolina can meet federal standards on time.
But the EPA's enforcement would go only so far. In North Carolina, for example, the agency says it will step in to curb soot but not smog. The agency says its analyses show that upwind states do not contribute to smog in North Carolina.
Under the March regulations, by 2015, nitrogen oxide pollution in the 28 states will have to be reduced by 1.9 million tons annually, or 61 percent below 2003 levels. Sulfur dioxide pollution must drop by 5.4 million tons, a 57 percent reduction.
The EPA says electric utility customers can expect their monthly electric bills to rise by up to $1 to pay the projected $4 billion annual costs to meet the new standards. But it estimates the financial benefits of preventing breathing ailments by cutting nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide are at least 20 times that. Both chemical compounds contribute to the formation of tiny airborne particles, while nitrogen oxides also lead to smog.
Fired CIA Agent Seeks
Investigation by FBI
A fired CIA agent, who the New York Times reported had told superiors in 2001 that Iraq had abandoned part of its nuclear program, asked the FBI to investigate allegations that the spy agency dismissed him for refusing to falsify intelligence.
A July 11 letter to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III from the former agent's attorney suggests CIA officials may be guilty of criminal violations involving intelligence he produced on weapons of mass destruction in 2000 that contradicted an official agency position.
The lawyer, Roy Krieger, said his client initially asked the CIA's inspector general to investigate charges that CIA officials had pressured him to alter the intelligence and retaliated when he refused. But the inspector general rebuffed his request.
"If the CIA is telling him to falsify information, that's potentially a crime. This merits an investigation, and if the CIA's not going to do it, the only other place is the FBI," Krieger said.
An FBI spokesman declined to comment.
The letter to Mueller reiterates charges in a lawsuit the former agent filed last December in federal court in Washington.
Identified as "Doe," the former agent, who worked as a Near Eastern specialist on counterproliferation issues, accuses the CIA of improper action on two separate pieces of intelligence. One was the weapons intelligence the former agent says he was asked to change in 2000. The other was intelligence uncovered in 2001 that the Times described yesterday as dealing with Iraq's nuclear program. The newspaper, citing people it said had knowledge of the case, said the second piece of intelligence came from a credible source and said that Baghdad had dropped a major segment of its nuclear program years before 2001. But CIA officials refused to distribute the finding to other intelligence agencies, the Times said.
The case could shed new light on Bush administration thinking ahead of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which the White House largely justified by charging that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was actively pursuing nuclear arms. No such weapons have been found in Iraq, and U.S. arms investigators have concluded that Baghdad abandoned its nuclear development program soon after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
-- From News Services