Train cars full of coal pass through Everett on Aug. 20. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Train cars full of coal pass through Everett on Aug. 20. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

State to fight Trump’s coal plant plan

Gov. Inslee said the plan to dismantle Obama-era pollution rules threatens lives and is illegal.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Washington state plans to sue the Trump administration over its proposal to dismantle pollution rules that would have increased federal regulation of emissions from coal-fired power plants, Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency plan threatens lives, props up an old technology and is illegal, the Democrat told reporters. “It’s an affront to people who want to breathe clean air.”

The state will file a lawsuit — likely joining with other states — but it must first wait for the EPA rule to be formally proposed and finalized, which could take months, said Bill Sherman, the attorney general’s counsel for environmental protection.

The EPA announced Tuesday that it plans to replace President Barack Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan, his signature climate policy. It says its Affordable Clean Energy rule “empowers states, promotes energy independence and facilitates economic growth and job creation.”

It also acknowledged that the increased emissions from aging coal-fired plants could kill hundreds more people annually and cost the country billions of dollars.

Sherman said it’s too early to discuss details about the state’s legal challenge but they’ll likely argue, among other things, that the EPA is acting beyond its authority under the Clean Air Act and contrary to science and facts.

The EPA proposal broadly increases the authority given to states to regulate existing coal power plants.

While Washington can act through legislation to control its own pollution, Inslee said, state residents are breathing smoke from other places and “we have an interest in reducing coal smoke from all over the U.S.”

Inslee, who has made climate a key priority, has pushed to phase the state off electricity from coal.

The state’s only coal-fired power plant in Centralia is already scheduled to stop burning coal entirely by 2025. Two older units at the Colstrip coal plant in Montana supplies coal-fired electricity to Washington state and are scheduled to close by mid-2022. No date has been set to close two newer units at that plant.

Several proposals to bring coal through Washington for export also have been defeated.

Washington is facing a legal battle over its decision to reject permits for a massive proposed coal-export terminal on the Columbia River in Longview.

On Tuesday, a federal judge allowed California, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Oregon and Massachusetts to file a joint amicus brief supporting the state in the case.

The state Department of Ecology denied the project a water-quality permit last fall, saying there were too many major harmful impacts.

Utah-based Lighthouse Resources, which operates coal mines in Montana and Wyoming, sued Washington in federal court in January, alleging officials violated federal laws in denying approvals for its $680 million Millennium Bulk Terminals- Longview project.

The company accuses the governor and state regulators of being anti-coal and discriminating against it by blocking the movement of coal mined in other states from being exported.

Wyoming, Montana, Kansas, Utah, South Dakota and Nebraska and several national industry groups have filed legal briefs backing project developers, saying the case has broad implications for the export of commodities that are important to many states.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Business

The Safeway store at 4128 Rucker Ave., on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Mike Henneke / The Herald)
Kroger and Albertsons plan to sell these 19 Snohomish County grocers

On Tuesday, the grocery chains released a list of stores included in a deal to avoid anti-competition concerns amid a planned merger.

Helion Energy CEO and co-founder David Kirtley talks to Governor Jay Inslee about Trenta, Helion's 6th fusion prototype, during a tour of their facility on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Inslee energized from visit to Everett fusion firms

Helion Energy and Zap Energy offered state officials a tour of their plants. Both are on a quest to generate carbon-free electricity from fusion.

Awards honor employers who promote workers with disabilities

Nominations are due July 31 for the awards from the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment.

Bruce Hallenbeck, 4, picks out Honeycrisp apples for his family at Swans Trail Farms on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. The farm is now closed for the season. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Study: Washington residents would pay more for homegrown goods

Local online shoppers are on the look out for the made in Washington label.

Aurora Echo, owner of Wildly Beloved Foods, begins making cavatelli pasta with one of her Bottene pasta machine on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Clinton, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Whidbey artisanal pasta maker shares her secrets

For Aurora Echo of Wildly Beloved Foods in Clinton, “sharing food is so ancient; it feels so good.”

Lynnwood
New Jersey auto group purchases Lynnwood Lexus dealership land

Holman, which owns Lexus of Seattle in Lynnwood, bought property on which the dealership resides.

Two couples walk along Hewitt Avenue around lunchtime on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett businesses say it’s time the city had its own Chamber of Commerce

The state’s seventh-largest city hasn’t had a chamber since 2011. After 13 years, businesses are rallying for its return.

Students Mary Chapman, left, and Nano Portugal, right, work together with a fusion splicer and other equipment during a fiber optic technician training demonstration at Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Sno-Isle students on the path to becoming fiber professionals

The state will roll out $1.2 billion to close gaps in internet access. But not enough professionals are working to build the infrastructure.

Washingtonians lost $250M to scammers in 2023

Identity theft, imposter scams and phony online ads were the most common schemes, a new study says.

LETI founder and president Rosario Reyes, left, and LETI director of operations Thomas Laing III, right, pose for a photo at the former Paroba College in Everett, Washington on Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Woman brings Latino culture to business education in Snohomish County

Rosario Reyes spent the past 25 years helping other immigrants thrive. Now, she’s focused on sustaining her legacy.

Annie Crawley poses for a photo with her scuba gear at Brackett’s Landing near the Port of Edmonds on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Edmonds ocean activist to kids: Life is better under the sea

From clownfish to kelp, Annie Crawley has been teaching kids and adults about the ocean’s wonders for three decades.

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.