The biggest U.S. business lobby group said Monday it has petitioned a federal appeals court to invalidate environmental regulations it claims will lead to sweeping electricity blackouts by forcing coal-fired power plants to close.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it filed a friend-of-the-court brief with a broader business coalition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency‘s “Utility MACT” rule, which aims to reduce emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants.
The federal agency’s Mercury Air Toxics Standards are scheduled to take effect in 2015.
The EPA’s opponents said the rule will result in the shutdown, modification and replacement of numerous power plants and will require new gas pipeline and electric transmission infrastructure to be built.
“At a price tag of at least $10 billion, EPA’s Utility MACT rule is one of the most expensive regulations ever for power plants, and has already resulted in the announced shutdown of numerous coal-fired power plants in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, with more sure to come,” the chamber’s lawyers said.
The chamber said the EPA has ignored requests by utilities to give them more time to comply with the mercury emission curbs.
It also said the EPA violated the Clean Air Act by using a flawed methodology to set emissions standards that are unachievable for coal plants because the necessary pollution control technologies don’t exist.
“EPA’s current floor-setting approach has led to circumstances in which virtually all existing facilities in certain source categories will have to shut down, and new sources will likely never be built because of the inability to achieve the standards,” the chamber said in its brief.
The utility MACT rule is one of several EPA rules being challenged in courts by utilities.