In response to a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club over a proposed coal plant on a American Indian reservation in Utah, the Environmental Appeals Board blocked the EPA from issuing a permit to the plant. The ruling also said that “the EPA has no valid reason to refuse to regulate the CO2 emissions that come from new coal-powered plants,” Time reports.
The decision, which pointed to a 2007 ruling by the Supreme Court that recognized CO2 as a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act and therefore needs to be regulated by the EPA, means any new new pollution permits for coal plants will need to use the Best Available Control Technology to reduce CO2 emissions. Previously, CO2 wasn’t affected by BACT because the EPA did not recognize it as a pollutant, but this decision changes that. In the short-term, the ruling also makes it difficult to certify new coal power plants because the EPA will need to reconfigure its rules on CO2 regulations.
There are currently no definition for BACT for CO2 and industry insiders estimate that it will take between six months to a year to figure that out.
David Bookbinder, Sierra Club’s chief climate counsel, told Wired that “this is incredibly good for green energy.” The decision delays proposed coal plants and has the potential to funnel money into alternative energy power plants that are more likely to be built without delays.