HASH(0xbe6160)

EPA seeks to scuttle cleanup of coal power plant pollution

EPA seeks to scuttle cleanup of coal power plant pollution

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is once again seeking to scuttle cuts to pollution from coal-fired power plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday asked a federal appeals court in Washington to postpone consideration of 2012 rules requiring energy companies to cut emissions of toxic chemicals.

The agency said in a court filing it wants to review the restrictions, which are already in effect. Nationally, most utilities are already on pace to comply with the new standards.

It is the latest in a string of moves by President Donald Trump’s appointees to help companies that profit from burning of fossil fuels.

Last week EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced he would seek to rewrite Obama-era rules limiting water pollution from coal-fired power plants. The agency also sought to roll back tighter restrictions on pollution from coal mines.

Trump has pledged to reverse decades of decline in a U.S. coal industry under threat from such cleaner sources of energy as natural gas, wind turbines and solar farms. The president has also said he doesn’t agree with the consensus of climate scientists that carbon emissions from fossil fuels is the primary cause of global warming.

Coal burned to generate electricity is also the nation’s largest source of mercury pollution, which when inhaled or ingested by pregnant women can harm the development of infant brains.

Though Congress passed legislation enabling tighter mercury restrictions in 1990, implementing rules to carry out the policy of the law has been stalled for decades by legal wrangling and utility lobbying.

After EPA finalized the new rules four years ago, the agency was sued by a coalition of conservative states and industry groups. Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general was tightly aligned with oil and gas companies, was among those who filed suit.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the EPA did not adequately consider the costs and benefits of the plan. But the justices let the rule stay in effect and returned it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for further review.

The appeals court left the rule intact while the EPA considered its costs. The agency issued new findings last year, upholding its prior position that the human health benefits of reducing mercury in the environment far outweighed the costs of installing new filters on power-plant smoke stacks.

Though the EPA now appears to be reversing course, environmental groups pledged to defend the restrictions in court.

Graham McCahan, a lawyer for the Environmental Defence Fund, said the tighter standards are already saving thousands of lives every year.

“Virtually every power plant in America is already in compliance with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards,” he said. “Weakening them would be a serious threat to the safety of our food, air and water.”

___

Follow Associated Press environmental writer Michael Biesecker at www.Twitter.com/mbieseck

Michael Biesecker And Sam Hananel, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Education minister blasts Chilliwack school trustee on gender issues

Fleming calls Neufeld’s behaviour ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’

Chilliwack firefighters issue warning over heat lamp use after barn fire

Being used to keep piglets warm; extinguished by homeowners

Chilliwack slugger signs with Sacramento State Hornets

Chilliwack Minor Baseball grad Dylan Ohlsen is taking his big bat to the NCAA ranks

Unity Christian wins Fraser Valley volleyball title

Kirsten Kampman helped the Flames make history with a straight-sets win over White Rock Christian.

Hospice holding community memorial celebration

Annual celebration in Chilliwack a chance to grieve, accept loss

VIDEO: Chilliwack’s first independent film festival

Films from around B.C. and the world were screened in Chilliwack at the inaugural festival.

VIDEO: ‘She is a tough cookie,’ says husband of found Coquitlam dog walker

Annette Poitras found alive in the woods on Wednesday morning

BC Transit buses to get safety door for drivers

These new full-length doors will be tested in Victoria, Kelowna and Abbotsford

Lower Mainland teen seeks funding for $750,000 drug Soliris

Paul Chung is hopeful that, like Shantee Anaquod, he will be approved for costly aHUS treatment

‘Fresh eyes’ looking into three missing Cowichan Tribes men

First Nations want answers to their disappearances

Pedestrian hit moments after receiving safety reflector from police

The Vancouver Island man was treated for minor injuries by police at the scene

FortisBC LNG site exports first shipment of gas to China

The shipment is part of a pilot project that could see more exports in the future.

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

B.C. to reimburse methadone patients for taking clinic fees off welfare cheques

Provincial government agrees to pay back more than $5.5 million in deducted fees

Most Read