Alabama Power Co. won a challenge over industrial emissions standards after a federal appeals court ruled against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA approved changes in the state’s industrial emissions standards in 2008 but reversed that decision in 2011, saying there was “sufficient likelihood” the new rules would increase air pollution. The new rules would change regulation of smoke emissions at industrial plants and how often plants can emit opaque smoke.
The three-member U.S. appeals court in Atlanta today struck down the EPA’s reversal.
“We conclude the 2011 disapproval was unauthorized by the Clean Air Act,” the appeals court ruled.
The EPA failed to “provide a clear statement of the error committed in the 2008 approval,” according to the court.
Dawn Harris-Young, a spokeswoman for the EPA, declined to comment on the ruling.
“The Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s 2008 rule is one of the strictest in the nation,” Brandon Glover, a spokesman at Alabama Power, said in a statement. “While we are still reviewing the full ruling, we are generally pleased with the court’s decisions.”
Michael J. Churchman, executive director of the nonprofit Alabama Environmental Council, which supported the 2011 reversal, said “the decision strongly favors the profits of dirty, dangerous coal plants while creating a serious threat to the health of communities across Alabama, which ought to be everyone’s biggest concern.”