States challenge air pollution ‘loophole’ rule

States challenge air pollution ‘loophole’ rule
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Seventeen states filed a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) crackdown on air pollution from power plants during exceptional periods.

Led by Florida, the states said that the EPA improperly shifted the federal-state balance that the Clean Air Act sets with the EPA’s rule for startup, shutdown and malfunction pollution.

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“We will not step aside while the EPA, through heavy-handed federal overreach, threatens to upend a system that the EPA has approved multiple times and has provided a consistent, reliable framework to safely provide electricity to millions of Floridians across the state,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement, adding that the rule is likely to increase utility bills in Florida.

In May, the EPA made final a rule that tells states to stop allowing power plants and other air pollution sources to exceed emissions limits during exceptional times like startup, shutdown or malfunctions, when it is usually harder to control emissions.

The mandate to 36 states came after environmental groups complained that the Clean Air Act does not allow such exemptions, and called them “loopholes.”

But the 17 states filing a lawsuit Tuesday said that the EPA is unfairly reversing years of decisions approving state oversight of those plants.

“Besides the clear violation of state’s rights enumerated in the Clean Air Act, the final rule also stands to stall or reverse progress the plaintiffs have made in improving the quality of the air in their state,” Bondi’s office said.