States urge EPA to tighten rules on coal plants

States urge EPA to tighten rules on coal plants

New York and 15 other states on Tuesday urged federal regulators to put teeth into a proposed pollution rule aimed at making U.S. electric utilities reduce smog and global warming emissions when they expand or modernize their coal-fired power plants.

“Pollution from coal-burning power plants and other facilities cause real problems throughout the United States from acid rain to urban smog to global warming,” New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo and attorneys general from the other mostly East Coast and western states urged the
Environmental Protection Agency to change its proposed rule on enforcement of the New Source Review program, which seeks to ensure air quality is not worsened by overhauls and additions at power plants and other emissions sources.

Cuomo said the emissions, which come mainly from power plants in the Midwest, “threaten people in New York State and other northeastern states downwind of these plants.”

At issue is the ability for U.S. power companies to modernize and expand their aging fleet of about 500 coal-fired power plants to keep them running.

The EPA proposed the rule this spring in response to a 2005 D.C. Circuit Court’s decision in a case in which New York sued the agency.

The states say an original EPA rule did not require plants making modifications to track and report their emissions so long as the plant operators saw no “reasonable possibility” that these changes would trigger NSR requirements.

They say the EPA’s new proposed rule fails to fix this problem, making it easier for power plants to escape emissions enforcement. In a letter the states sent on Tuesday to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, they said the EPA proposal is “legally flawed.”

Letters from such coalitions can be presented as public comments in lawsuits, though the issue has not reached that level.

EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood said in an e-mail that the Bush administration “has established rules that will achieve significant and permanent reductions in power plant emissions, as well as encourage safety and energy efficiency.”

The other attorneys general that signed the letter represent California, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Vermont. The top law enforcers for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico also signed the letter.

Information from: Reuters via

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