Environmentalists Concerned About Proposed Air Pollution Rule

A Bush administration proposal on how the government measures air pollution from smokestacks would undermine a recent U-S Supreme Court decision.

That's the view from environmentalists who won the suit against Duke Energy. The debate centers on whether measuring pollution should be done in tons per year, which environmentalists favor, or on a per-hour bases.

The U-S Environmental Protection Agency and the utility industry favor the latter.

Duke Energy says an increase in the hourly rate of pollution emissions is necessary. It says annual emissions can increase if modernized plants operate longer hours at lower hourly emission rates.

Environmentalists argue that measuring by the hour rather than by the ton would dramatically increase air pollution. After a public comment period, the E-P-A hopes to have a rule in place by the end of the year.