Republican Lawmakers to Unveil Bill to Delay EPA Toxic Air Rule

Tuesday, 21 Jun 2011 05:47 PM

 

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House Republican lawmakers will offer legislation in August aimed at postponing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed air-toxics rule, said Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican.

“We want to delay the final rule,” Whitfield, chairman of the House energy and power subcommittee, said today at a nuclear energy conference in Washington.

American Electric Power Co., which produces 80 percent of its electricity from coal, is among companies pushing the EPA to give businesses more time to comply with the regulation to cut mercury and other pollutants. AEP, the biggest U.S. producer of coal-fueled power, has said the rule will force plant shutdowns.

The EPA said today that it will lengthen the initial 60-day public comment period for the proposed rule by 30 days. The extension is in response to lawmakers who had called on the agency to give companies more time to weigh in on the standards, according to an EPA statement.

The final rule will still be issued in November, according to the agency.

Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, had asked the EPA to give utilities, manufacturers, environmental groups and other interested parties 120 days to comment on the proposed standard.

Earlier today, Whitfield said his main goal is to delay the rule.

“We don’t really have expectations that we can repeal all of this, but if we can delay the final rule, delay the compliance period and address whether or not technology is really available, then I think we’ve accomplished a lot,” he said.

The EPA proposed the limits on air toxins such as mercury, arsenic and acid gases in March, clearing the way for the first U.S. standards for such pollutants. The regulation would require many power plants to install “widely available, proven pollution control technologies” to cut emissions tied to cancer and heart attacks, the EPA said at the time.

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