EPA Faces Challenges to Rule Allowing States To Use Cross-State Trading to Reduce Haze

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The Environmental Protection Agency is facing lawsuits over a June 7 final rule that allows a number of states to use the emissions trading program under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule to reduce regional haze, rather than requiring best available retrofit technology for power plants (National Parks Conservation Ass'n v. EPA, D.C. Cir., docket number unavailable, 8/3/12; Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 12-1342, 8/6/12).

The National Parks Conservation Association and the Sierra Club filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as did the Utility Air Regulatory Group.

In the final rule, EPA determined that the cross-state rule, which requires power plants in 28 states to reduce interstate transport of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, will result in greater visibility improvements than best available retrofit technology (77 Fed. Reg. 33,642; 107 DER A-11, 6/5/12).

The Clean Air Act allows states to substitute alternatives to source-specific best available retrofit technology to reduce regional haze if the alternative does a better job of improving visibility, EPA said.

Earthjustice, which filed the petition for review on behalf of the environmental groups, issued a statement Aug. 6 characterizing the final rule as “[e]xempting some of the oldest and highest polluting coal-fired power plants from installing the Best Available Retrofit Technology.”

By Jessica Coomes