Bush orders expedited federal review of California power plants

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Posted at 6:50 a.m. PST Friday, Feb. 16, 2001

Bush orders expedited federal review of California power plants

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush has ordered all relevant agencies to ``expedite federal permit approvals for siting and operating power plants in California,'' as requested by Gov. Gray Davis.

In a statement Friday, Bush said all actions must be consistent with the law and ``ensure continued protection of public health and environment while preserving appropriate opportunities for public participation.''

``The federal government should make every effort to work with California and to help its citizens,'' Bush said.

Davis, who had earlier streamlined state-level permits to build power plants faster, asked Bush last week to expedite federal approvals to build power plants considered by agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The request sparked a dispute between the state and federal administrations over the extent of any waivers for pollution standards. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club warned that plans to cut red tape to bring more power plants on line could wipe out work done to clean up the state's air.

A White House spokesman initially characterized Davis' request as ``a request to lift or relax environmental protection'' for pollution permits on existing plants.

But Winston Hickox, head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, who is overseeing the effort to get an additional 5,000 megawatts of power into operation by summer, said the request wasn't aimed at environmental changes for existing plants.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 16, 2001

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