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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bondi joins multi-state lawsuit against EPA, calls for delay in emissions rule



6334460.jpgAttorney General Pam Bondi joined a multi-state lawsuit asking for a delay in the implementation of a new rule set by the Environmental Protection Agency over hazardous emissions from coal-fired power plants, a continuation in her legal fight against the agency's clean-air regulations.

The deadline for the rule setting mercury and air toxics standards for the power plants is Nov. 16. The group wants that pushed to Nov. 16, 2012, so the EPA can analyze the rule's impact on consumers and businesses, according to the amicus brief filed by Michigan's attorney general in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

"EPA is insisting on rushing ahead with a rule that will have a far-reaching impact, without adequately considering the serious concerns and questions raised by states and other interested parties in the rulemaking process," the brief states. "Most notably, the rule under consideration has the potential to undermine significantly the reliability of our Nation's electrical supply and significantly increase the cost of electricity to the consumer."

The rule is of particular concern to Florida due to the state's "unique weather" and residents' reliance on heating and cooling, according to the brief. Of all states, the brief says, Florida has the highest number of cooling degree days.

“We  cannot  allow Floridians, many of whom are already suffering financial hardships, to bear the brunt of costly federal regulations,” Bondi said in a statement.

The EPA's position is that the regulations are long overdue and critical to public health. More than half of the nation's coal power plants already have the technology required by the rule, the EPA claims.

"When these new standards are finalized, they will assist in preventing 11,000 heart attacks, 17,000 premature deaths, 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and approximately 11,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year. Hospital visits will be reduced and nearly 850,000 fewer days of work will be missed due to illness," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a June statement.

The American Nurses Association is the lead plaintiff in Tuesday's lawsuit. The 25 states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The lawsuit is Florida's latest legal challenge to EPA policies. Bondi in September joined a Nebraska lawsuit that challenges an Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring 27 states to reduce power plant emissions that lead to air pollution in other states. The EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule on July 6,and it will go into effect in January barring action by the courts.

(Photo from Times archives)

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 1:16pm]


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