The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Federal Court Orders EPA to Delay Cross-state Pollution Rule
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington ruled on Dec. 30 that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must delay implementation of pending regulations aimed at limiting harmful power plant pollution that crosses state lines. The cross-state air pollution rule would have put new limits on sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from power plant smokestacks in 27 Eastern states starting Jan. 1.
In the first two years, the U.S. EPA estimates that the regulation and some other steps would have slashed sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent from 2005 levels, and nitrogen oxides will be cut by more than half.
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution from power plant smokestacks can be carried long distances by the wind. As they drift, the pollutants react with other substances in the atmosphere to form smog and soot, which have been linked to various illnesses, including asthma, and have prevented many states and cities from complying with health-based air standards set by federal law.
More than a dozen electric power companies, municipal power plant operators and states had petitioned the court to halt the rules until litigation plays out, arguing the rules will harm the economy and threaten the reliability of the power grid.
The decision deals a blow to environmental groups and the Obama U.S. EPA, which announced the cross-state air pollution rule in July.
“Today’s judicial decision temporarily halts implementation of life-saving clean air protections for 240 million Americans pending full review of the facts and the law,” Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement.
“The pollution reductions at stake are some of the single most important clean air protections for children, families and communities across the Eastern half of the U.S.”
The U.S. EPA has said that the regulations will prevent 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks and 400,000 cases of asthma starting in 2014, which would amount to $280 billion a year in health benefits.
The court is asking that oral arguments take place by April 2012.
Stay tuned to EcoWatch.org for follow-up on this issue.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.
The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.
By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia
In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."
Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.
Michigan prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against government officials involved in the Flint water crisis Thursday, citing concerns about the investigation they had inherited from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) appointed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette, CNN reported.