Monday, January 2, 2012

Federal court freezes EPA cross-state air pollution rules

The new year starts out where the old year ended with opponents fighting to block the Obama Administration's tough new environmental rules to reduce cross-state air pollution from power plants in 27 states.

The Associated Press reports that industrial critics won a delay on Friday when a federal court put on hold the controversial EPA regulations that are under challenge by more than a dozen electric power companies, municipal power plant operators. 

Six states— Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, and Ohio — had asked the court for the delay pending resolution of litigation challenging the new rules.  All  six would have had to reduce pollution from their power plants under the new EPA rules. They were joined by Ames, Iowa, local power plant operators and power generating companies, including Entergy Corp., Luminant Generation Co. and GenOn Energy.

In the first two years, the EPA estimates that the regulation and some other steps would have slashed sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent from 2005 levels, and nitrogen oxides will be cut by more than half.

Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution from power plant smokestacks can be carried long distances by the wind and weather. As they drift, the pollutants react with other substances in the atmosphere to form smog and soot, which have been linked to various illnesses, including asthma, and have prevented many down-wind states and cities from complying with health-based standards set by law.

Environmentalists on Friday said they would continue to defend the regulations, which are essential for some states to be able to meet air quality standards for soot and smog and are far more protective than the ones proposed under the Bush administration.

“The pollution reductions at stake are some of the single most important clean air protections for children, families and communities, across the eastern half of the United States,” said Vickie Patton, the general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund.

But Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a coalition of power companies, said in a statement Friday that the ruling was the “first step to setting it right.”

“The underlying rule was the subject of hasty process, poor technical support, unequal application and substantial threat to jobs, power bills and reliability,” he said.

A number of downwind states have joined to defend the EPA rule in court. Not among them is New Jersey where Governor Chris Christie is taking a different approach to out-of-state, power-plant air pollution. Christie's interstate air pollution decision is a puzzlement

Do you salute or decry the legal delay?  Tell us why in the opinion box below. If one is not visible, click on the tiny 'comments' line to activate it.


EPA Acts On Power Plant Emissions
EPA Tells Coal-, Oil-Fired Plants to Clean Up Air Shut Down

Recent blog posts:
Time runs out on Delaware's offshore wind project

Philadelphia now recycling milk & juice containers, too

In NJ, a clash over control of environmental regulations 
EPA report links fracking to groundwater contamination
Energy and environment bills in NJ Legislature on Dec 8 

Like this post? You'll love our daily newsletter, 

Try it free for 30 days!
  No obligation. Cancel anytime with one click

Subscribe here to view all our YouTube videos

Repost this article