Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another labor vs enviro fight? Unions seek delay in EPA power plant toxic cleanup

With some still reeling by the decision over the Keystone XL pipeline, another labor vs. enviro battle may be shaping up. The White House OMB web site notes that union lobbyists visited OMB last week to discuss EPA’s upcoming mercury and toxic pollution cleanup standards for coal-fired power plants. EPA has said it intends to issue the standards by mid December. The union reps brought along a copy of comments they filed earlier with EPA, urging delays in the cleanup timetable. There is evidence, by the way, that EPA has taken some heed of this. EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy recently said states should consider extending the three-year compliance window by a year. However, we do not expect EPA to follow another union request to delay the whole rule by six months to a year. (EPA did recently delay it by a month. As our friends with American Lung Association have noted, every month of delay equates to as many as 1,400 premature deaths, by EPA’s calculation.) Will he White House feel that it must now throw a bone to the unions, still smarting over the Keystone decision? We will be watching closely.

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