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Coal plant. AP Photo Coal plant. AP Photo  

States, enviros threaten lawsuit to force EPA to issue new emissions rules

Environmental groups and a dozen cities and states are threatening to sue government regulators over delaying a controversial new rule for carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.

“Climate change is a real and increasing threat to our health, safety, and economy. While the Obama Administration has pledged to combat climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency has now missed the deadline for adopting New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel power plants,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

New York leads a coalition of states including Connecticut, Vermont, Oregon, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts as well as the cities of New York and the District of Columbia.

“Addressing emissions from power plants is critically important. Today’s notice makes clear that if the EPA does not promptly issue these rules, we will take legal action to hold the Agency to its commitment,” Schneiderman said.

Three environmental groups — the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council — sent a notice of intent to sue to the EPA on Monday over the EPA’s “unreasonable delay” in finalizing the new power plant standards.

“The delay in completing the carbon pollution standards for new power plants is regrettable, but despite industry hopes, there is no actual evidence that EPA is planning to weaken its proposal,” said David Doniger, policy director with NRDC’s air quality program. “It is critical that EPA finish building a strong record to protect last year’s proposal from the polluters’ legal challenges. Yet further delay is also unacceptable because our country is already experiencing the ravages of climate change.”

The EPA failed to meet the April 13 deadline to finalize new emissions standards for new power plants, a rule that has been heavily criticized for its negative impact on the coal industry.

“The new regulations attempt to force standards on coal emissions that would not only be incredibly expensive, but impossible to achieve even with advanced technology,” said West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. “Even worse, there would be no benefit from these new regulations.”

Last month, Manchin introduced an amendment to the 2014 budget resolution to block Congress from funding the EPA’s new power plant emissions rule.

“After all, experts agree that emissions from all U.S. power plants have only a marginal impact on global emissions, and this already small share is shrinking every year, as China, India, and others dramatically scale up their fossil fuel use,” Manchin asserted.

However, the coal industry may be headed for tougher times. Acting EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe said that standards for existing power plants “will be on the table during this fiscal year” and that the agency was looking at “working with states on existing sources, but we’re not there yet.”

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