The Environmental Protection Agency may be close to finalizing a rule that would allow coal-fired power plants to forgo pollution controls if they expand their operations. Current federal regulations require power plants that are expanding to undergo an environmental review and possibly to install pollution controls. But the proposed rule would bypass those reviews as long as the plant’s hourly emissions don’t exceed historical levels. Critics say this could lead to overall higher annual emissions. EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar acknowledges that concern by saying the proposal is not yet final.
“There’s still a lot of questions that are being answered and a lot of the process that is undergoing, or underway at this time. And so those questions remain to be answered, it will be answered in what we expect is our final rule,” said Shradar.
Democrats in the U.S. House sent a letter to the EPA asking the agency to revoke the proposal. They pointed out that more than 70 percent of the nation’s power plants are nearly 30 to 60 years old. Because many of them may try to expand or upgrade, Democrats say they worry the new rule would drastically increase pollution.