Wednesday, August 14, 2019

21 states and six cities states sue EPA over its reduction of Obama-era restrictions on coal-fired power plants

A group of 21 states and six cities have filed suit against the Trump administration, arguing that its decision to weaken restrictions on coal-fired power plants doesn't meaningfully limit greenhouse gases, therefore violating the federal Clean Air Act.

"In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency eliminated the agency’s Clean Power Plan and replaced it with a new rule that gives states more leeway in deciding upgrades for coal-fired power plants," Don Thompson and Adam Beam report for The Associated Press. EPA's analysis predicted an extra 300 to 1,500 people will die annually by 2030 because of extra air pollution in the power grid, but EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said recently that Americans want "reliable energy that they can afford."

Attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia filed suit, along with six local governments: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, South Miami and Boulder, Colo.

The plaintiffs also argues that the new rule will increase overall pollution by extending the life of aging coal-burning plants, which California Gov. Gavin Newsom called an effort to "prop up the coal industry," AP reports.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, whose state produced the second most coal behind Wyoming in 2017, predicted the suit will ultimately fail at the Supreme Court, which stayed an earlier Obama administration attempt in 2016 at the request of a competing 27-state coalition," the AP reports. Morrisey said the coalition is "dead wrong" in its interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

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