Bush may have to intervene between Quayle and EPA At odds over proposal that public be notified when companies seek to raise emissions.

April 23, 1992|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dan Quayle and other senior administration officials are deadlocked with the Environmental Protection Agency over a bitterly contested EPA proposal that the public be notified when companies with pollution permits seek to raise permissible emissions.

As a result of the stalemate, President Bush may be presented with each side's arguments within the next few days and be asked to make the decision himself.

At stake are not only what the White House says is billions of dollars in potential costs to thousands of American companies but the political consequences of having to rule against the interests of either the business or environmental communities.

"There's a continued disagreement on the issue of public review in the permits process," an administration official said after a White House meeting yesterday attended by the principal parties to the months-long dispute.

The session included EPA Administrator William K. Reilly and Mr. Quayle, point man for the administration's aggressive deregulatory program and head of its Council on Competitiveness.

David Cohen, a spokesman for the environmental agency, said he could not discuss yesterday's session, which replaced one that had been scheduled for April 3 but was postponed after wrangling about the terms of the debate.

A spokesman for Mr. Quayle's office, citing an "unusual situation," also declined to comment.

In carrying out amendments to the Clean Air Act, the agency contends that the process by which companies seek relaxation of their pollution limits should be open and should include requirements for public notice and comment.

Officials say the agency regards itself bound to this view, which was enunciated by a former general counsel.

Administration officials said that the Justice Department had been asked whether it concurs but that so far it had declined to do so, at least in writing.

Environmentalists say that without the chance to contest applications at an early stage, their ability to prevent a rise in pollution levels would be severely eroded.

It is not clear whether the Council on Competitiveness also discussed in yesterday's meeting what measures might be taken to continue the Bush administration's 90-day regulatory moratorium that is scheduled to end next Tuesday.

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