North Carolina, environmental organizations, and a dozen utilities are challenging an Environmental Protection Agency rule designed to reduce air pollution transported across the boundaries of 28 eastern states.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says two parts of the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) finalized in March could allow neighboring states to continue polluting North Carolina's air. "While we generally support EPA's new standards, we fear that loopholes in this rule will give power plants in other states the ability to send additional pollution our way," Cooper says.
In a suit filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, North Carolina argues that EPA's use of early reduction credits could mean that actual pollution reductions will not occur as scheduled in 2015.
The advocacy group Clean Air Task Force does not want the federal appeals court to overturn CAIR itself, but it is challenging language in the preamble that it believes could prevent EPA from issuing more multistate air pollution transport rules in the future. "We believe those restrictions are both unnecessary and unlawful under the Clean Air Act," says David Marshall, a task force attorney.
Twelve electric utilities and industry groups are also challenging various parts of the rule. In its filing, Duke Energy Corp. said it wants a review of how EPA allocates sulfur dioxide emission credits to utilities under CAIR.
When fully implemented, EPA says, CAIR will cut emissions of sulfur dioxide across the eastern U.S. by more than 70% and nitrogen oxides by more than 60% from 2003 levels.
The American Chemistry Council says it supports the rule because the strict regulatory requirements in CAIR will help slow utilities' fuel switching from coal to natural gas.