3:33pm

Tue January 3, 2012
Environmental Watchdog

Federal Court Delays Pollution Rule

A federal court has delayed an air pollution rule that was scheduled to go into effect Sunday. The Cross-State Air Pollution rule would put limits on the amount of pollution some power plants can put out, because the emissions often blow across state lines. It applies to 28 states—including Kentucky.

The rule was praised by health and environmental groups for targeting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, which have been shown to damage lungs and contribute to breathing problems. But coal and utility companies complain the rule is burdensome, and a three-judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court in D.C. has decided their claim has enough merit to justify a thorough examination.

Betsy Janes of the American Lung Association of Kentucky says letting companies put off installing pollution controls will hurt human health.

“So it’s going to allow polluters to continue to pollute and basically be bad neighbors by worsening the air for people,” she said. “What the rule would have done is save about 34,000 lives a year. So now, the rule is delayed, so you can imagine basically what we’re doing is delaying saving lives.”

The delay doesn’t have much effect on Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities, says spokeswoman Chris Whelan.

“In the past few years we’ve spent $1.2 billion in environmental upgrades, including scrubbers at Brown and Ghent,” she said. “So when it came to this, it really doesn’t have any impact on our future plans.”

But because the rule was meant to curb pollution that crosses over state lines, LG&E and KU’s compliance may mean more for Kentucky’s neighbors than the Commonwealth.