The EPA will not set methane emissions rules for coal mines, according to a document published in the Federal Register today.
EarthJustice had petitioned the EPA to add coal mines to the Clean Air Act list of stationary sources and use the law to regulate their greenhouse gas emissions, similar to what the agency has proposed in its emissions rules for new power plants issued last year. On April 30, the EPA denied the petition because of “limited resources and ongoing budget uncertainties,” the document says.
EarthJustice filed the 2010 petition on behalf of several environmental groups including Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity. The groups say they are reviewing the EPA’s decision and weighing legal options.
The US strategy to reduce GHGs “cannot overlook the contributions of coal mines,” which are the fourth largest source of methane emission in the US, according to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
In a May 7 letter to acting EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe, the lawmakers say they are disappointed with the EPA’s decision, adding that reducing methane emissions from coal mines are “some of the most cost-effective emission reductions available.” They say, according to the World Resources Institute, “modest abatement” rules could cut methane emissions by 24 percent and cost only $5 per ton.
The National Association of Manufacturers, American Petroleum Institute and a host of other industry groups last month appealed to the US Supreme Court to stop the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rules, which they say are too costly and threaten manufacturers’ global competitiveness.
A federal appeals court last June upheld the EPA’s limits on GHG emissions from car tailpipes, factories and power plants. In its ruling, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals in Washington said that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act was “unambiguously correct,” and that its finding that these emissions posed a public health risk is “neither arbitrary nor capricious.”
According to NAM president and CEO Jay Timmons the regulations will hurt the economy and kill jobs.