Today Attorney General Jack Conway joined Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and 15 other states in a legal action against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for illegally invalidating the individual air quality protection plans in each of those states. In May, the EPA issued a final rule requiring 36 states, including Kentucky, to revise their individual State Implementation Plans (SIP) governing emissions during Startup, Shutdown or Malfunction (SSM) of power plants and manufacturers.
“For decades Kentucky has self-regulated air quality standards during startup, shutdown and the malfunction of power plants and manufacturers in our state,” said Attorney General Conway. “Now the EPA is once again using heavy-handed federal overreach that threatens our ability to implement a plan that works best for Kentucky. The EPA is demanding that Kentucky scrap its system that has improved our state’s air quality, and once again substituted its judgment for ours. This is very likely to result in higher utility bills for Kentucky consumers. I am confident the courts will again rule that the EPA has overstepped its authority.”
The Clean Air Act establishes a cooperative approach to regulating the nation’s air quality and dictates that EPA has the primary responsibility to identify air pollutants that pose a threat to public health and to set national air quality standards; however, the Act gives states the primary responsibility to determine how to achieve those standards. For decades states have ensured compliance with the standards set for power plant and manufacturing SSM through their individual SIPs.
The EPA’s final rule illegally requiring the states to change their previously approved SIPs, came after they agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club. The EPA’s rush to settle that matter has led to the adoption of an illegal final rule that is in conflict with the Clean Air Act and imposes on Kentucky’s right to determine the most effective strategy for achieving air quality standards.
Today, Attorney General Conway joined Florida and 15 states in filing a petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking the Court to review the EPA’s final rule. Besides the clear violation of state’s rights enumerated in the Clean Air Act, the final rule also stands to stall or reverse progress Kentucky has made in improving the quality of the air in the Commonwealth.