The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will adopt new rules to limit toxic air pollution from the nation’s coal and oil-burning power plants by November 2011. The move comes as the result of a federal lawsuit against the EPA by a coalition of public health and environmental groups, including the National Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center and Waterkeeper Alliance. According to the lawsuit, the EPA failed to meet the Clean Air Act’s deadline of December 2002 for setting air pollution regulations for power plants. Then-President George W. Bush prompted the EPA to determine that such regulation was not necessary or appropriate. That decision was rejected by the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., in February 2008.
Now the nonprofit groups are eager to help set strict emissions standards, ones that will begin to reverse years of damage, particularly mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants—emissions that have resulted in mercury-contaminated fish and fish advisory warnings in all 50 states.
“The coal-fired utility industry has been given a governmental pass to poison our air and watersheds with toxic chemicals for many years now,” said Waterkeeper Director of Advocacy Scott Edwards. “We’re hopeful that, under the current EPA, the years of irresponsible industry oversight are finally over.”