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GOP Senator to Keep Blocking EPA Nominees Over Coal Plant (1)

Jan. 14, 2022, 6:23 PM

Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) has placed a hold on the nomination of David Uhlmann, the Biden administration’s pick to become the next EPA enforcement chief, pending an agency decision on a coal plant in the southwestern corner of the state.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed shortly this week to disapprove of Wyoming’s revised plan to control regional haze at the Jim Bridger Power Plant. According to the agency, the state’s plan would weaken 2014 requirements to install emissions controls at the plant starting this year.

Lummis pledged in a statement to continue blocking the administration’s EPA nominees over the issue. She called the EPA’s decision “blatantly political” and “a complete reversal from that of career EPA employees during the previous administration.”

“The ball is in the EPA’s court,” a Lummis spokesperson told Bloomberg Law. “Our goal is to keep the plant operating, and if the EPA has a counterproposal to do that, we are happy to discuss it.”

KC Becker, regional head of EPA’s mountains and plains region, said the agency looks forward to public comment and continued opportunities for engagement on its proposal.

However, “our evaluation of information provided to date indicates the state’s revision to its 2014 regional haze plan is a step backward for visibility in our parks, wilderness areas, and communities,” Becker said in a statement.

Uhlmann’s nomination had been scheduled for a vote before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the panel’s chair, said he would be held because one of the lawmakers on the committee was still awaiting an information request from the agency.

Shannon Anderson, staff attorney at the Powder River Basin Resource Council, said the Jim Bridger plant in southwest Wyoming is the state’s “number one polluter.”

Nitrogen oxide pollution harms the state’s residents’ health and “mars the scenic vistas of our treasured national parks and wilderness areas,” she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Lee in Washington at stephenlee@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chuck McCutcheon at cmccutcheon@bloombergindustry.com; Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloombergindustry.com