Federal court grants EPA stay on Utah regional haze decision
- The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a request from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stay Utah’s Regional Haze Ruling, while the agency reconsiders pollution controls that had been mandated for two coal-fired plants.
- In June 2016, EPA ordered Rocky Mountain Power to install pollution controls at its Hunter and Huntington plants to improve the air and visibility in surrounding national parks.
- The state of Utah subsequently sued the federal government, and now EPA officials have put the plan on hold to examine possible solutions.
President Trump's administration continues to seek ways to help the coal industry, largely by rolling back Obama-era decisions.
Earlier this summer, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt indicated the Utah decision would be reconsidered after new analysis of the haze ruling in Utah showed improvements at Arches and Canyonlands national parks would be smaller than previously thought. But environmental advocates say the improvements are still necessary.
Michael Shea, HEAL Utah’s senior policy associate, issued a statement saying the group was disappointed in the decision. “The EPA is going against its own scientific research – research which shows these plants are negatively affecting the air quality of Utah’s National Parks," he said.
But most troubling of all, he added, is the state of Utah’s preferred plan which does not call for significant changes at the plants. This ruling, Shea said, sets a dangerous precedent for other regulations targeting coal plants. Under the Obama Administration, EPA said its own plan would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from four generating units 9,885 tons each year.
The group said it is currently evaluating legal options and plan to continue to push for the installation of pollution control technologies for the Hunter and Huntington plants.
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