The Environmental Protection’s Agency’s new air toxics rule is officially on the books. The new rule, which will require power plants to drastically reduce emissions of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium and nickel, was published in the federal register today. This starts the clock for compliance. No existing power plant will have to meet the standards until April 16, 2015. For facilities that need extra time, the EPA has indicated it will grant extensions up to 2017.
But it also starts the clock for lawsuits. Industry groups and many Congressional members have criticized the rules for placing too many burdensome regulations on industry. If they want to challenge the EPA’s authority to promulgate the rules in court, they have 60 days to file a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the regulations, and said he supports a resolution sponsored by Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe to nullify the rule.
“Don’t be mistaken, Kentucky is at the center of the Administration’s bulls eye and this rule takes direct aim at Kentucky’s thriving industries,” McConnell said in a press release. “At a time when many Kentucky families are already making tough financial decisions, we must rein in the Obama EPA and their continued assault on Kentucky jobs and their families.”
Even if Inhofe’s Resolution of Disapproval gains a simple majority in both the House and Senate, to overturn the rule it would still have to be signed by the president.
Environmental and health advocates have praised the rule for the effect it will have on human health and air quality. The state has approved Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ plan to comply with the rule. That plan—which includes shutting down several coal-fired plants—is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2016.