The Environmental Protection Agency did not adequately consider job losses when it issued various air pollution regulations impacting coal consumption, Murray Energy Corp. said in a notice of intent to sue the agency.
The company said in its notice letter that the EPA's air pollution rules for industrial boilers, power plants and ambient air pollution unduly burden sources that burn coal either by setting more stringent emissions standards than other fuel types or by providing incentives to switch to other fuels such as natural gas.
The agency's rules violate Section 321 of the Clean Air Act, which directs the agency to consider the job impacts of its regulations, the company said. The lawsuit seeks to compel the EPA to evaluate potential job losses in the coal industry as part of its various air pollution regulations.
The notice letter was sent to the EPA on Jan. 21, and the company announced it Jan. 27.
“The pressure the current administration is placing on the power sector to switch from coal to other fuels and to avoid the construction of new coal-burning facilities has threatened one of the nation's largest markets for coal and, in turn, the jobs and livelihoods of all those who work in and support our nation's coal industry, including Murray Energy's 7,100 employees,” the company's letter said. “This is precisely the type of significant potential job loss that Congress mandated EPA to evaluate, continuously, in administering and enforcing the Clean Air Act.”
The company is required by the Clean Air Act to notify the EPA of its intent to sue 60 days prior to filing the citizen lawsuit. The EPA could not be reached for comment.
Rules Said to Encourage Less Consumption
Murray Energy said the EPA's rules encourage industries to consume less coal or shift to natural gas. Additionally, the agency's air quality standards for particulate matter and sulfur dioxide encourage states to develop their own regulations to limit emissions from industrial sources that burn coal.
Murray also argued that the EPA is unfairly targeting power plants that burn coal for air pollution enforcement actions that either force facilities to close or switch to natural gas. The company said the EPA's regulations provide incentives to switch from coal to natural gas, causing job losses in the coal industry. Murray said the EPA has a nondiscretionary duty under the Clean Air Act to evaluate those job losses as part of its review of its air pollution regulations.
“Over the past five years, EPA has waged what can fairly be described as a war on coal, repeatedly and consistently encouraging sources to switch from coal to other fuels, to shut down coal-fired sources, and to avoid constructing new coal-fired sources, all through EPA's administration and enforcement of the Clean Air Act,” the company's letter said. “You have a nondiscretionary duty under CAA § 321(a) to continuously evaluate the employment effects of these actions but have failed to do so. Your failure to fulfill this duty prevents Murray Energy from obtaining and using EPA's continuous evaluations of employment effects to address and ameliorate the devastating economic consequences of EPA's actions on the coal industry.”
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