to Circumvent Court Rulings
Washington Free Beacon
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expanded its control of state regulations known as Regional Haze Rule in order to impose more stringent regulations on coal-fired power plants and avoid the judicial injunction against air quality regulations that it tried to impose in 2011.
The EPA imposed haze plans on North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Nebraska in 2011 and 2012 that will increase energy compliance costs by almost $375 million. It also rejected plans in Wyoming and Arizona, demanding stricter regulations that would add at least $200 million to energy production, according to William Yeatman, an environmental regulations expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“Ultimately every state will face this; Ohio, Pennsylvania, everyone,” Yeatman said. “The EPA positioned Regional Haze to stand in for other regulations that didn’t pass constitutional muster. It is clearly moving aggressively to extend these rules to all coal-fired plants.”
The EPA attempted to usher in new regulatory processes for coal with the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, which would have enabled the department to cap emissions for power plants operating in the states because pollution can travel across state lines. A federal appeals court blocked the rule from taking effect in 2011 and struck it down in August 2012, citing the rule’s onerous requirements and regulatory overreach.
The courts may have thwarted the rule from taking effect, but that did not prevent the department from using its costly guidelines on existing regulation such as the Regional Haze Rule, a 1999 standard that requires states to enhance visibility in federal parks. The EPA allowed the states to count existing air quality standards, such as the Clean Air Interstate Rules, toward its haze plans.
The EPA replaced the Clean Air Interstate Rules baseline with the more stringent Cross State Air Pollution Rule in May 2012 despite being on shaky legal ground. The agency then assumed the authority not only to approve haze plans, but also to replace them with federal plans if states refused to comply...
Mark Lewis sits on the board of the Central Arizona Project, a public water management system that relies on the Navajo Generating Station’s coal plants to pump water throughout the state. He said the Regional Haze Rules proposed by the EPA would “destroy 65 years and $4 billion of infrastructure investments” because they would force the Navajo Station to spend $1 billion on upgrades. This has left the state no choice but to challenge the haze rules.
“This is targeted to shut down coal plants and they’re going to end up bankrupting the largest tribe in the country, as well as the farmers that use it for their water supply and the taxpayers who use it for electricity,” he said. “The EPA and environmental activists have overplayed their hands in these job-killing regulations.”
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