Court upholds EPA pollution plan for Pennsylvania coal plants

By Alex Guillén | 05/02/2024 12:10 PM EDT

The state Department of Environmental Protection said it is reviewing the ruling.

A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant.

A court ordered EPA to approve a corrected Pennsylvania plan for several coal-fired power plants or issue a federal plan within two years. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld an EPA-written plan reducing pollution from several coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania, rejecting challenges from the state and one of the affected companies.

The 3rd Circuit in 2020 tossed out EPA’s approval of the state’s ozone implementation plan, ruling that it contained a “glaring loophole” that allowed coal plants to exceed their pollution limits. It ordered EPA to approve a corrected state plan or issue a federal plan within two years.

The Biden administration worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to correct the state plan but ultimately issued a federal implementation plan instead. The plan limits nitrogen oxide emissions, which go on to form ground-level ozone.


EPA’s FIP was challenged by Keystone-Conemaugh Projects, which operates two affected power plants. It was joined by the Pennsylvania DEP. Another coal plant operator, Homer City Generation, also sued but dropped its challenge.