Energy & Environment

Communities no longer able to appeal pollution permits under forthcoming EPA rule: report

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Changing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations could soon strip individuals and communities of the ability to challenge granted pollution permits while continuing to allow industry to appeal denials, The New York Times reported.

The rule the EPA is preparing to weaken would no longer allow community voices across the country to challenge decisions on how much pollution is legally allowed to be released at nearby power plants, according to the report.

{mosads}Three people familiar with the draft plan, which has not yet been released, told the Times that industry stakeholders would still be allowed to appeal the EPA’s decisions to the Environmental Appeals Board.

The EPA did not confirm or deny the existence of the forthcoming rulemaking.

“EPA is always interested in improving its processes while maintaining environmental protection. Contrary to the speculation by certain parties, EPA is working to protect the public interest and transparently carry out its work,” an EPA spokesman said in a statement.

News of the rule change, first announced by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Friday, came the same week President Trump held his environmental leadership speech at the White House. Trump preached the role his administration has played in bringing top-notch water and air protections to the U.S.

“What E.P.A. is proposing means communities and families no longer have the right to appeal a pollution permit that might affect them,” Patrice Simms, a former staff lawyer for the Environmental Appeals Board, told the Times. 

Critics of the rule change say the appeals option offered communities a forum to push back on the EPA’s decisions without piling on legal fees and mounting lengthy legal cases.

Supporters of the change say it would eliminate red tape and speed up a process that ends up being decided by the courts anyway.

The rule proposal could be made public as soon as this week, according to the Times.

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