As new air pollution rules for powerplants became law on Oct. 27, a coalition of 12 states and others challenged those regulations in federal court.

Officials from mostly eastern states, the District of Columbia and local governments sued the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The lawsuit seeks to block changes announced earlier to the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act (ENR 9/1 p.11).

The changes, first proposed in December 2002 with the final rule unveiled Aug. 27, govern when powerplants, refineries and other industrial facilities must install advanced emission-control equipment as part of upgrades and so-called routine maintenance.


The states have repeatedly argued that the new rules will weaken national air pollution protections. "We should not be relaxing emission control standards when air pollution continues to cause such devastating health and environmental problems," asserts New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a leader in the effort to reverse the rule. The officials contend that only Congress has the authority to make "sweeping changes" to the clean air law.

"EPA has created a huge loophole for industry that will allow companies to rebuild old, dirty powerplants and increase dangerous emissions without installing modern pollution controls as intended under New Source Review," charges New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey.

Opponents to the rule argue that the changes will allow the regulated facilities to release more pollution into the air. But EPA asserts that it "does not believe that this rule will result in any significant changes in emissions." EPA Officials did not comment on the lawsuit.

(Photo courtesy of office of Eliot Spitzer)