Power Producers, Mine Workers, States Seek EPA Rule Review

Twenty-four U.S. states, the United Mine Workers of America and Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) asked a Washington federal court to review new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency air-pollution regulations.

The new National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, or NESHAP, require operators of coal- and oil-fired power generators to meet standards “reflecting the application of maximum achievable control technology,” according to the published regulation.

More than a dozen challenges to the rule have been filed with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington since April 13, including a joint filing by 22 states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

This is the first time the American Public Power Association, a Washington-based group of 2,000 community-owned utilities, has filed a petition to block an EPA regulation, said Nick Braden, the group’s vice president for communications.

The group, saying its community-owned utilities can’t meet the deadline, seeks to require the EPA to re-propose the rule. The rule gives power-producers three years to comply, with a fourth or fifth year possible with state or federal approval.

“It’s not the rule itself, but the timeline of compliance,” Braden said in an interview.

‘Fragile Economy’

The 22 states filing the complaint are concerned about the effect of the regulation on affordability and reliability of power, according to Joy Yearout, a spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Schuette complained in October that the proposed rule would overburden Michigan’s “fragile economy,” and urged EPA to hold off on issuing the final regulation.

The number of states filing to block the measure is telling, said Scott Segal, a lawyer at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in Washington who represents coal-fired utilities. “There is really a bipartisan consensus that this rule went too far, too fast,” Segal said in an interview.

The Sierra Club filed a petition so that it can preserve its legal rights to defend EPA’s regulation on mercury and other toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants, said Sanjay Narayan, a lawyer for the San Francisco-based group.

“We have supported the rule throughout,” he said in an interview.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net; Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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