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Controversial economist probing cost of proposed EPA air pollution rule

By Ed O'Keefe

By The Post's Juliet Eilperin:

A controversial economist working at the Office of Management and Budget has raised questions about whether a new air pollution rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency would impose too high a cost on coal-fired power plants, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Randall Lutter, who served as the Food and Drug Administration's head of policy under George W. Bush and has battled environmentalists for years on issues such as climate change and smog, has been examining the economic impact of federal rules at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Documents in EPA's public docket show he is now probing whether a rule to cut sulfur dioxide emissions would cost coal-fired utilities too much. The rule -- which was proposed last month and would take effect in June under a court order -- would prohibit short-term spikes of sulfur dioxide, which has been linked to respiratory diseases and premature deaths.

While sulfur dioxide emissions are now measured in 24-hour and annual increments, the new rule would evaluate them every hour, prohibiting sulfur dioxide from exceeding a limit of 50 to 100 parts per billion in one hour.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | December 3, 2009; 1:59 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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