23 States File Petition Against EPA's New Coal Regulations

A coalition of 23 states, led by North Dakota, West Virginia, and South Dakota, has filed a petition to review the EPA's new pollution standards for coal-fired power plants. The states argue the rules exceed the EPA's authority and will harm the coal industry, while the EPA claims they will provide climate and public health benefits.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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23 States File Petition Against EPA's New Coal Regulations

23 States File Petition Against EPA's New Coal Regulations

On Wednesday, a coalition of 23 states, led by North Dakota, West Virginia, and South Dakota, filed a petition in the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to review the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new pollution standards that took effect on Tuesday. The final proposed rules, which were made public on April 25, set stricter emissions standards for coal-fired power plants.

Why this matters: The outcome of this petition could have significant implications for the country's energy landscape and the fight against climate change. If the EPA's regulations are upheld, it could pave the way for more stringent emissions standards across various industries, leading to a potential shift towards cleaner energy sources.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley argued that the new rules "intentionally set impossible standards to destroy the coal industry." He added, "Federal agencies cannot decide on a whim to destroy entire industries." The petition claims that the EPA's regulations exceed the agency's statutory authority and disregard the U.S. Supreme Court's 2022 decision in West Virginia v. EPA, which cautioned against using narrow provisions to force coal plants out of operation.

The new rules include stricter mercury emissions standards, which North Dakota officials argue provide no measurable health benefits and are a "death sentence for coal." The regulations also lower the levels of pollutants that coal-fired lead power plants can discharge through wastewater, set standards for handling coal ash, and impose limits on carbon emissions.

Jason Bohrer, President and CEO of the Lignite Energy Council, warned that "electricity demand is surging, and the EPA's agenda will severely impact our ability to rely on electricity 24/7." The council estimates that the North Dakota coal industry contributes $5.75 billion to the state economy and more than $100 million in state and local taxes. The new rules put over 12,000 jobs in the lignite industry at risk.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan defended the regulations, stating that the agency is "cutting pollution while ensuring that power companies can make smart investments and continue to deliver reliable electricity for all Americans." The EPA projects that the new rule will provide up to $370 billion in climate and public health benefits over the coming two decades. Fossil fuel-fired power plants accounted for 25% of the nation's total CO2 emissions in 2022, making them the largest stationary source of such emissions.

The 23 states involved in the petition are Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The lawsuit has been filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and a copy of the petition can be accessed through the North Dakota Attorney General's office.