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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ford Motor Sues U.S. EPA: Bad News At Brook Park

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Daily Bellwether has learned Ford Motor Co. is challenging a two-month-old U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that tightens air pollution standards at its Cleveland Casting Plant, a huge foundry employing about 1,740 autoworkers who manufacture engine parts in Brook Park, Ohio. State officials have complained in the past that any EPA move to strengthen Clean Air particulate matter standards at the plant could have devastating economic consequences.

Ford, which is losing market share, cutting jobs and struggling for survival, fought the rule for years while it was being drafted, contending EPA would harm its ability to operate the casting plant.

Republican U.S. Sen. George Voinovich argued when he was Ohio's governor in the 1990s that the rule would not improve air quality. He said it would impose a needless burden on Ford threatening the plant's competitiveness and future operations. "Without a significant public health benefit, one must ask why we are going to impose these job killing rules?" Voinovich told a Congressional panel 10 years ago.

EPA unveiled the stiffer reg Nov. 8. At the same time the agency announced it was "disapproving authority for revising emission limits for Ford Motor's Cleveland Casting Plant via Title V permit modifications" -- which would have eased standards at the plant.

Ford asked the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to toss out the rule on on January 8, 2007, a move that sets the stage for a long legal wrangle. Ford contends the plant has numerous air-pollution emitting processes which are connected to an array of air-pollution control systems. Ford said the machinery goes in and out of service depending on production schedules, which often change. The company contends the EPA reg creates a manufacturing nightmare.

But EPA contends the automaker sought special dispensation from rules that apply to many other Northeast Ohio manufacturers. "This action approves a specific a set of specific limits for the Cleveland Casting Plant and other Cleveland area facilities that EPA is satisfied will assure attainment of the applicable particulate matter standards (specifically the stands for particles nominally 10 micrometers and smaller, known as PM10)."

EPA added, "That is, the rule supported by Ford would allow the facility to violate limits that help assure that Cleveland will attain the air quality standards." EPA said Ford sought a special status that ''shortchanges" its statutory role in overseeing Clear Air standards.

There is information about the casting plant HERE. The text of the Clean Air rule Ford has challenged is HERE.

All of the auto maker's recent press releases about its Brook Park operations can be found HERE. And information about all Ford Motor plants in the U.S. is HERE.

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