WildEarth Guardians files suit against EPA over two Utah coal plants

WildEarth Guardians on March 27 filed suit at the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in an effort to compel a clean up of two of what it called Utah’s largest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants. 

“It’s time to stop sacrificing our clean air to polluters,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director.  “With coal-fired power plants taking a terrible toll on our skies in Utah and in other western states, we can’t afford to delay clean up.”

The suit targets the U.S. EPA’s alleged failure to ensure that PacifiCorp‘s Hunter and Huntington power plants in central Utah are retrofitted with modern pollution controls to reduce regional haze. With modern pollution controls, emissions could be reduced by 90% or more, the group said. The Colorado court oversees the EPA regional office in Colorado that handles Utah.

In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency disapproved a plan by the state of Utah that would have allowed PacifiCorp to avoid having to clean up the Hunter and Huntington power plants. The disapproval triggered a two-year deadline for the state to fix the flaws in its plan. More than two years later, Utah still hasn’t made the repairs and put the coal-fired power plants on the path to clean air, the lawsuit said.

“Utah continues to drag its feet when it comes to safeguarding clean air, putting public health and the state’s iconic parks at risk,” said Nichols. “Since the state seems unable or unwilling to actually make PacifiCorp own up to its pollution, it’s time for the Environmental Protection Agency to put its foot down.”  

Under the Clean Air Act, where states fail to meet their deadlines, the U.S. EPA has a mandatory duty to intervene and put in place its own federal plan.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.