On June 15, 2010, a coalition of environmental groups filed a petition with EPA seeking a rulemaking that would list coal mines as a stationary source of emissions under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act. 

The coalition, which includes environmental groups Earthjustice, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club, alleges that EPA has a duty to list and to adopt standards of performance for coal mines.  Under their proposal, EPA would establish federal New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) for new or modified coal mines’ emissions of methane, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), and nitrogen oxides, and would concurrently establish NSPS for existing coal mines’ methane emissions.  These NSPS would dictate a maximum level of emissions that each coal mine would be allowed, and would require coal mines to install costly control systems in order to comply with these new standards of performance.

In arguing for the rulemaking, the petition refers to EPA’s December 7, 2009 Endangerment Finding that greenhouse gases (“GHGs”), including methane, are an “air pollutant” contributing to global climate change (see December 11, 2009 edition of the WER).  EPA is currently formulating a rule, to be released later this year, which would require coal mines to report their GHG emissions, but does not currently regulate those emissions. 

 The coalition requests a response from EPA within 180 days.