WASHINGTON -- A dozen states and cities and three major environmental groups have notified the Environmental Protection Agency that they plan to sue the regulator unless it issues final rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.
On Monday, the EPA confirmed that it had missed an April 13 deadline to issue final rules curtailing emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, the country’s single biggest source of heat-trapping gases that drive climate change. The jurisdictions and the environmental groups sent separate letters to the EPA. But each letter notified the regulator of the groups’ plan to sue after 60 days, if the EPA did not expedite the rules.
In a reply, the EPA declined to set a deadline for releasing the final regulations on the plants. “We are working on the rule and no timetable has been set. We continue to review the more than 2.7 million comments we have received on the rule,” spokeswoman Alisha Johnson said.
The EPA proposed the rule for power plants in March 2012, and under the Clean Air Act, it must issue the final version of the rule within a year of receiving public comments, the New York attorney general’s office said. But the EPA failed to meet that deadline. It has yet to give the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget at the White House, where it could be reviewed for another 120 days and, based on the progress of some other EPA rules, might be delayed indefinitely.
By finalizing the rules, the EPA would partially fulfill commitments it made in a 2011 agreement with New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman and a coalition of states to issue greenhouse gas emission standards for new and existing power plants. The EPA has to finalize rules for new plants before it can propose limits on carbon dioxide at existing plants.
Said Schneiderman, “Climate change is a real and increasing threat to our health, safety and economy. While the Obama administration has pledged to combat climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency has now missed the deadline for adopting New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel power plants. Addressing emissions from power plants is critically important. Today’s notice makes clear that if the EPA does not promptly issue these rules, we will take legal action to hold the agency to its commitment."
The jurisdictions that contacted the EPA over the lawsuit are New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C., and the city of New York. The environmental groups are the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.