Two months ago, the EPA delayed finalizing a controversial rule that would have put carbon dioxide emissions limits on new power plants and effectively ban coal plants. Three environmental groups, ten states and two cities planned to file suit against the agency over the delay, but they decided to hold back on the news that the Obama administration will soon unveil its plan to tackle global warming.
“Due to public reports that the president will be announcing major action on climate change very soon, the Attorney General has decided to postpone a lawsuit on this matter for a short period,” said a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the effort.
Last week, President Barack Obama reportedly told campaign donors that he will unveil his plans to address global warming, which could include using the EPA to curb power plant emissions.
The EPA’s proposed limits on new power plants have been harshly criticized because they would effectively ban the construction of coal-fired power plants unless they utilized carbon capture technology — which the industry says is not commercially viable.
While 10 states have expressed their intent to sue the EPA over the delay, another seven states’ governors have written to the EPA asking them to reconsider their emissions rule.
“The EPA’s proposed limits on greenhouse gas emissions threaten the livelihood of our coal miners to the point of killing jobs and crippling our state and national economies, while also weakening our country’s efforts toward energy independence,” said West Virginia Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
EPA regulations are already projected to shut down more than 280 coal-fired generating units, according to the American Coalition for Coal Electricity.
“EPA continues to downplay the damage its regulations are causing to the U.S. economy and to the many states that depend on coal for jobs and affordable ,” said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of ACCCE.
Some have speculated that the EPA delayed finalizing the new power plant rules in order to create a separate standard for coal plants, so they can be built without having to install carbon capture .
Environmentalists hope that recent small steps to address taken by the Obama administration — such as the deal to limit ozone emissions with China — signal the beginning of a bigger push to address global warming.