Salt Lake Tribune
By: Emma Penrod
March 14, 2017
n the latest turn of the decade-long dispute over Utah’s Regional Haze Rule, Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Mike Lee introduced federal legislation to overturn a 2016 decision to require additional pollution controls at two Utah power plants.
In a Monday announcement of the proposal, Chaffetz said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority when it partially rejected a plan drafted by Utah regulators and decided instead to require emissions-reduction steps at Rocky Mountain Power’s Hunter and Huntington coal-fired power plants. He said rejecting the EPA decision would enable Utah to implement its original plan.
The Regional Haze Rule, part of the federal Clean Air Act, mandates the restoration of “natural” air conditions in national parks and wilderness areas by the year 2064. Under that rule, each state is required to develop a plan for reducing emissions from sources near these areas, with EPA determining whether the state plans are acceptable.
Attempts to reach Chaffetz for further comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.
In 2016, according to Chaffetz’s statement, the “EPA rejected Utah’s plan using criteria not granted in the statute” and “instead used the rule to impose a problematic federal plan that imposes an estimated $700 million price tag, but achieves no visible improvement.”
These actions, the Republican said, are “typical of Obama-era federal overreach and must be repealed.”
Environmental advocates said the proposal is the latest in a string of attempts by U.S. Congressional leaders to undo rules passed under the Obama administration. The Regional Haze Rule, they say, dates back to the 1970s.
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