Twenty-five states and the U.S. Territory of Guam on Monday filed an amicus brief and urged a federal court to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to delay its proposed Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (Utility MACT) rule by one year, until at least Nov. 16, 2012. The EPA has said it is on track to finalize the rule this November.
The EPA’s proposed Utility MACT rule would create a new federal regulation to address the emissions of "hazardous air pollutants" from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The proposed rule may require the installation of new expensive control technologies to meet the new limits mandated by the EPA.
The states, led by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, said in their brief filed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that they were not asking the court to strike the rule—but simply to allow the “EPA to ‘take a step back’ and provide a reasonable period of time for it to respond to the voluminous comments received in the rulemaking process, to attempt to fix serious technical flaws acknowledged by EPA, and then to more carefully consider the promulgation of a rule with such serious and far-reaching consequences.”
The states said the EPA was “insisting on rushing ahead” with a rule that could have a massive impact on their economies without “adequately considering the serious concerns and questions raised by states and other interested parties in the rulemaking process.” The rule had the potential to significantly undermine the reliability of the nation’s power supply and increase power costs to the customer. “A rule of this magnitude should not be promulgated in such a haphazard fashion, which will only increase the likelihood of further challenges and delays. No one gains from that, and a more reasonable timeline for decision can prevent it,” they asserted.
The case filed with the federal court is American Nurses Association, et al. v. Lisa P, Jackson, and Administrator of The United States Environmental Protection Agency. Petitioning states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
On Friday, Schuette also filed a formal petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to oppose the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). Schuette said that the rule “side-steps the authority of the [Michigan] Department of Environmental Quality to set facility-specific limits to best meet the needs of Michigan power producers. As a result, certain Michigan power plants, like those in the Upper Peninsula, cannot reasonably meet the standards set by Washington.”
Besides the CSAPR and the Utility MACT rule, several regulations proposed or finalized are being legally challenged. Bills are also in the pipeline in Congress to ease or delay several rules. Earlier this month, the House passed the TRAIN Act, a bill that could delay the CSAPR and Utility MACT rules, but the legislation is expected to meet roadblocks in the Senate, and President Obama has threatened to veto it.
On Tuesday, the House also defeated eight Democratic amendments to a bill that would delay EPA rules limiting emissions from industrial boilers. Final passage of the bill is now expected later this week.
Next week, House Republicans are expected to approve a bill that could override EPA rules regulating coal ash. The bill, H.R. 2273, could leave it to states to adopt and implement coal ash permit programs.
Sources: POWERnews, AG Office Michigan, EPA, The Hill