Earthjustice, representing the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council sued the agency in July 2008, challenging the Bush new source review permitting program. The groups challenged several exemptions in the rule that would allow massive industrial facilities to be built without analyzing the impacts of soot pollution on surrounding communities.
Along with the lawsuit, these groups also asked the new EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, to reconsider the Bush-era decisions.
The decision today means that EPA will prepare a new rulemaking proposal and allow the public to weigh in. EPA, in the meantime, will stay implementation of one of the controversial exemptions while EPA conducts the new rulemaking action.
This could have immediate ramifications for a handful of permits being considered for coal-fired power plants that relied on the Bush exemptions. These plants include:
Paul Cort, an attorney who filed the lawsuit reacted to today's news from EPA:
"Administrator Jackson is holding true to her commitment to an open, honest EPA that stays true to science and the law. This will have immediate and important consequences for the people living in the vicinity of several proposed plants that can now no longer rely on these illegal exemptions.
"EPA today announced that it is granting requests by environmental groups to revisit several controversial, last-minute decisions made by the departing Bush administration regarding the air quality permitting of massive new industrial sources.
"One of these rules governed the permitting of sources, such as coal-fired power plants, that have the potential to emit hundreds of tons of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Environmentalists objected to a number of exemptions added to the Bush rule that would have allowed sources to forego analyzing the impacts of these emissions or evaluating controls by allowing them instead to certify only that the sources would comply with old standards applicable to larger particles (PM10). EPA announced today that it agrees that the basis for exempting sources from analyzing fine particle emissions and controls was no longer valid."
Paul Cort or Brian Smith, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6700