EPA asks court to postpone the agency’s defense of its own pollution standards
As part of its effort to repeal federal regulations that crack down on polluters, the Trump administration asked federal courts to delay two more court hearings in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to defend rules that limit dangerous air pollution. The first case concerns a 2015 rule closing a loophole that allows industrial polluters in 36 states to violate Clean Air Act standards for soot and other harmful pollutants when a power plant starts up, shuts down, or malfunctions. The second hearing concerns the EPA’s landmark 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants that burn coal and oil. The standards offer immense public health benefits, preventing as many as 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks each year. Most power plants are already complying the standards via installed pollution controls, so the EPA’s sudden retreat seems especially gratuitous. Courts already have granted similar requests by the Trump administration to delay arguments in lawsuits, including ones concerning the EPA’s carbon rule for future power plants and its 2015 health standard for ozone or smog pollution.