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Groups: Proposal To Roll Back Coal Plant Regs Puts New England's Air Quality At Risk

Environmental groups say New England could be hard hit by a federal proposal to roll back restrictions on coal-fired power plants.David Doniger, from the environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council, says the new rule could boost coal production and put states’ air quality at risk.

“So if you get increases in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from coal plants that are running more or running longer, then the downward states, including the states in New England, will bear the brunt of this dangerous air pollution,” he says.

But Bill Wehrum from EPA says the agency doesn’t have the authority to require states to use renewable energy like wind and solar. “Dispatch of power plants and design and implementation of power grids historically has been the responsibility of the states and local governments.”

EPA is proposing to give states broad authority to design their own plans to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants. There are no coal-fired power plants currently operating in Rhode Island or Massachusetts.

Avory Brookins of Rhode Island Pubic Radio reported this story for the New England News Collaborative.