Coal company sues over 'destructive' EPA ozone standards

Coal company sues over 'destructive' EPA ozone standards
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Murray Energy Corp. has filed the first lawsuit against the Obama administration’s new ozone rule.

The coal giant sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its surface level ozone standards after they were published in the Federal Register on Monday. 

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In a statement announcing the lawsuit, Murray called the rule "exorbitantly expensive, illegal and job-killing.”

“This ozone rule is yet another illegal and destructive action aimed at killing jobs," the company's president and CEO, Robert Murray, said. "We have the law, science, economics, cold hard energy facts and the Constitution on our side. We will continue to fight to preserve our jobs and livelihoods, and we will prevail in our litigation.”

Federal regulators formally introduced the new ozone standards on Oct. 1, tightening the acceptable level of surface ozone from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. 

Industry groups have warned the new standard will be expensive to implement and eliminate jobs. Murray said the rule threatens to prematurely shut down coal plants around the United States.

The Obama administration published the ozone standard in the Federal Register on Monday, the procedural step that opens the door to lawsuits. Industry groups have long promised to sue over the ozone rule, and public health organizations looking for an even stronger standard have said they are considering the same.

The EPA has said the rule is attainable and designed to benefit public health. 

“I need to do what’s requisite — not too high and not too low — and it’s very challenging, there’s no bright line,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy: EPA stands firm on fuel standards EPA decides not to weaken car efficiency rules Top Republican urges regulators to back off MORE said when unveiling the standards earlier this month. 

“But I used as much thought and reason on how we could actually identify health impacts that we could eliminate and also pay attention to the direction we need to head with our remaining concerns.”

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison defended the standards on Monday.

“EPA has met its obligations under the [Clean Air Act] to review the science and set ground-level ozone standards requisite to protect health with an adequate margin of safety,” Harrison said. 

“The Clean Air Act provides states with time to meet the standards, and EPA works closely with states to implement the more protective standards. Depending on the severity of their ozone problem, areas would have until between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards.”

Beyond legal action, Republican lawmakers vowed to fight the rule as well. 

"I have always been an advocate of cleaner air, but this new regulation was unnecessary," said Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeFeds to consider renewed protections for bird species Trump’s nominees may face roadblocks ‘Covert propaganda’ in federal rulemaking MORE (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

"I will be working with my Senate colleagues in pursuing legislation to protect American taxpayers from EPA’s aggressive regulatory agenda.” 

—This post was updated at 5:30 p.m.