A judge recently ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to quickly evaluate how many power plant and coal mining jobs are being lost due to air pollution regulations, after the EPA had ignored the requirement for decades.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey in West Virginia was moved to make the ruling after reviewing a response from outgoing EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
In a response to an earlier court order in a lawsuit by Murray Energy Corp., McCarthy said it would take the agency up to two years to devise a methodology to use to try to comply with the order. Judge Bailey deemed the response “wholly insufficient, unacceptable, and unnecessary.”
According to the judge, the EPA is required by law to analyze the economic impact of enforcing the Clean Air Act on a continuing basis. Judge Bailey said McCarthy’s response “evidences the continued hostility on the part of the EPA to acceptance of the mission established by Congress.”
The EPA was ordered to identify facilities harmed by the regulations during the Obama presidency by July 1, including those at risk of closure or reductions in employment. The EPA has long said that analyzing job loss won’t change global energy trends.
The judge gave the EPA a Dec. 31, 2016, deadline to provide documentation on how it is continuously evaluating the loss and shifts in employment that may result from administration and enforcement of the Clean Air Act. The EPA said it is reviewing the ruling.