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Court orders EPA to act on Connecticut air pollution petition

Court orders EPA to act on Connecticut air pollution petition
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A federal court Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to take action on a request from Connecticut’s government to crack down on pollution from a Pennsylvania power plant.

Connecticut federal Judge Warren Eginton is giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 30 days to hold a public hearing on the state’s request and 60 days to make a final decision.

The judge said that the EPA clearly violated the 60-day time limit for responding to such petitions under the Clean Air Act and rejected the agency’s request to take until the end of the year to decide.

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“Agency compliance more than two years after the filing of the petition is clearly at odds with period of time that Congress deemed appropriate for EPA review of a Section 126(b) petition,” Eginton wrote, referring to a section of the Clean Air Act.

“Defendants’ proposed schedule contravenes the congressional intent that EPA ‘act quickly on a Section 126(b) petition,’” he continued.

“Defendants have not sustained their heavy burden of demonstrating the impossibility or infeasibility of complete review of the petition within the 60-day period accorded as appropriate by Congress.”

Connecticut filed the petition in June 2016.

Officials said the coal-fired Brunner Island Steam Electric Station in southern Pennsylvania is emitting nitrogen oxides that blow to Connecticut and deteriorate the air quality there. The state asked the EPA to force the plant to reduce its emissions.

The Obama administration’s EPA extended the deadline for responding to the petition to January 2017. The EPA told the federal court that its staff is working on the petition, but they also have other responsibilities that require attention.

Numerous states have sued the EPA under the Trump administration for not responding to their petitions to crack down on pollution, like Maryland, Delaware and New York.

An EPA spokeswoman said the agency is reviewing the Wednesday decision.