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Washington likely to sue EPA over new coal rules

OLYMPIA – Washington is poised to sue the Trump administration – again – over a possible change in environmental laws, state officials said Wednesday.

Gov. Jay Inslee said the state will vigorously oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed changes to the Clean Power Plan, which would give states the authority to allow more burning of coal for electricity. That would stop an Obama administration plan to reduce the use of fossil fuels for energy and increase alternative generating sources like solar and wind.

“We are choking on the smoke from forest fires,” Inslee said on a day when air quality levels remained poor across the state. Changing the Clean Power Plan is “an affront to people who want to breathe clean air.”

Bill Sherman, the state attorney general’s counsel for environmental protection, said Washington would likely join other states in a lawsuit after the rule allowing for more coal burning is final. The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would be changing the rule, but the proposed change hasn’t been published yet, and the EPA must allow at least 60 days for public comment before releasing a final rule.

Sherman said he doubted that the final rule, and resulting lawsuit, would occur before the November election.

Washington has joined with other states to mount court challenges to six other proposed changes by the EPA, over topics including new rules for methane, ozone and pesticides, Sherman said. In each case the state was successful in blocking the new rule.


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