17 States Sue EPA Over Air Quality Rules

by | August 14, 2015 AT 11:00 AM

By Susan Salisbury

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is leading 16 other state attorneys general in a legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accusing it of illegally invalidating the individual air quality protection plans in those states.

In June, the EPA issued a final rule requiring 35 states, including Florida, to revise their individual State Implementation Plans governing carbon emissions during a power plant's start-up, shutdown or malfunction.

"We will not step aside while the EPA, through heavy-handed federal overreach, threatens to upend a system that the EPA has approved multiple times and has provided a consistent, reliable framework to safely provide electricity to millions of Floridians across the state; furthermore, the agency's action could result in higher utility bills for Florida consumers," Bondi said.

The Clean Air Act establishes an approach to regulating the nation's air quality. It states the EPA has the primary responsibility to identify air pollutants that pose a threat to public health and to set national air quality standards. However, the law gives states the primary responsibility to determine how to achieve those standards.

For decades, states have ensured compliance with the standards set for power plant startup, shutdown or malfunction through their individual State Implementation Plans. The adoption and adherence to Florida's plan has helped to improve the state's air quality, state officials say.

The EPA's imprudent rush to settle the matter, Bondi said, has led the agency to adopt an illegal final rule that is in conflict with the Clean Air Act and imposes on Florida's right to determine the most effective strategy for achieving air quality standards.

Bondi this week filed the petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking the court to review the EPA's final rule.

(c)2015 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)