ALBANY, N.Y. - A federal appeals court Friday blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from easing clean air rules on aging power plants, refineries and factories, one of the regulatory changes that had been among the top environmental priorities of the White House.
The new rules, strongly supported by industry representatives, would have allowed older plants to modernize without having to install the most advanced pollution controls.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington declared that the EPA rules violate the Clean Air Act and that only Congress can authorize such changes.
I’m not sure why the White House would be backing this. Why should a factory, simply because it is older, not have to install advanced pollution controls when it modernizes? Modern plants are an entirely different thing than older plants and should have to follow the same standards as factories that are just being built. I’m not sure you can even spin this in a positive way.
Industry groups have contended that the Clean Air Act, as now written, discourages plant operators from modernizing their equipment.
Friday's decision "is a step backward in the protection of air quality in the United States," said Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a Washington-based group representing several power-generating companies. "What is it the environmental community thinks they've won? They've won the ability to place roadblocks in front of energy efficiency projects. This is terrible news."
First, it only discourages companies because they do not want to shell out the money to modernize. Secondly, even if this was true, that is not the issue here. The issue is that the White House cannot overstep Congress on this matter, no matter how much they wish they could. You know, pesky checks and balances.