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By Samuel R. Avro on Dec 12, 2008 with no responses

Effort Abandoned to Ease Emissions Limit for Coal Power Plants


Conceived by Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force in 2001, a plan that would have eased restrictions on the coal power industry was abandoned by the EPA.

In what comes as a huge letdown for the coal power industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has abandoned its efforts to ease pollution restrictions for coal-fired energy plants.

The Bush administration has long been pushing for such a plan that would have eased restrictions for energy companies building new plants and expanding existing facilities. President George W. Bush had hoped to achieve his goal of easing the pollution standards by the end of his term on Jan. 20, but that’s not to be the case.

The EPA’s decision brings to an end a long-standing disagreement between the Bush administration and various environmental groups.

“We didn’t want to be faced with putting a midnight regulation in place,” said Jonathan Shradar, an agency spokesman. “It was better to leave those incomplete rather than force something through.”

First unveiled in 2005, the proposal would have changed the way that emissions from existing plants were calculated. The dispute between the Bush administration and environmentalists was whether it should be calculated on an hourly rate or an annual average. Environmentalists and governors of Northeastern states contend that an hourly rate would increase the smog and pollution levels emitted by the coal-fired plants.

Another plan that was shot down was a proposal which would have allowed for new plants to be built in the high air quality areas such as national parks.

“The overturning of these rules is a huge victory for Tennesseans and all Americans who enjoy our great American outdoors,” said Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican who led an effort with other senators opposing the changes as a threat to air quality in national parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains.

The National Parks Service opposed that proposed rule change.