EPA’s “sue and settle” scam
posted at 11:38 am on February 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Earlier this week, I wrote about a new lawsuit by Arizona in an attempt to fight “regional haze” regulation by the EPA. Sean Hackbarth follows up at the US Chamber of Commerce with a look at how the EPA uses the courts to push the boundaries on regulation, in a scam Sean calls “Sue and Settle”:
With “Sue and Settle,” EPA, in cahoots with environmental groups, outflanked state environmental agencies. Here’s what happened: In a federal court in California, EPA settled a suit with environmental groups (Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, Environmental Defense Fund, and others) over regional haze rules that committed it to “various deadlines to act on all states’ visibility improvement plans.”
Here’s where it gets interesting (emphasis mine):
On the eve of the deadlines that EPA had set for itself in the Consent Decrees, the agency found that it could not approve the states’ submissions due to alleged procedural problems, such as inadequate cost estimates…. EPA claimed that it had no choice but to impose its preferred controls in order to comply with the Consent Decrees.
In Arizona, it would cost the Apache, Cholla and Coronado coal plants over $1 billion to adhere to EPA’s regional haze rules. That would mean higher electricity costs and possibly higher water costs if the rule is extended to the Navajo Generating Station which powers water delivery in the state. And since other states like Montana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming are also covered by these consent decrees, expect EPA to institute rules on those states that target coal-fired power plants.
And there you have it. Just like something straight out of Hogwarts, regional haze rules, an effort to protect national parks’ views, is magically transformed by the “Sue and Settle” process into an arrow used by the administration to attack coal-fired power plants. It joins Utility MACT (the “Blackout Rule”) and proposed greenhouse gas standards in the “War on Coal” quiver. The results are power plants shutting down, people losing their jobs, and and increased electricity costs.
Be sure to read it all.