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Trump orders faster issuance of air pollution permits
President Donald Trump is ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to move faster on processing air pollution permits for businesses.

A White House memorandum issued Thursday instructs the EPA to take final action on Clean Air Act permit applications within one year.

It also calls for giving states more control over efforts to reduce haze in national parks and for considering pollution originating in other countries when determining how well states are meeting clean air standards.

The order encourages allowing states to offset pollution increases in one area with reductions elsewhere.

Trump says the changes were part of his effort to cut regulation and promote manufacturing growth.

Environmental groups say the policy would fulfill a wish list for polluting industries and lead to dirtier air for Americans.

The Associated Press

EPA fires back at critics over Colorado mine wastewater

DENVER — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is firing back at a mining company that accused the agency of letting untreated mine wastewater get into a southwestern Colorado river.

Doug Benevento, the EPA's Denver region director, said Thursday the criticism from Sunnyside Gold Corp. was meant to distract attention from Sunnyside's responsibility to help with a Superfund cleanup of the area.

The company and the government are in a dispute over who should pay for a study to help devise a cleanup plan.

EPA ordered Sunnyside to pay because the company owns mining sites in the area.

Sunnyside argues it's not responsible. The company says EPA is making things worse by running a treatment plant below full capacity, letting pollution get into a river.
EPA says the plant is running as designed.

The Associated Press

Trump energy adviser, fossil fuel champion, resigning

WASHINGTON — A top White House adviser for energy and environmental policy is resigning.

Michael Catanzaro will be returning to CGCN Group, the law and lobbying firm where he previously worked.

Catanzaro had headed domestic energy issues for the White House's National Economic Council. He will be replaced by Francis Brooke from Vice President Mike Pence's office.

Catanzaro had been a leading figure in President Donald Trump's aggressive deregulatory and pro-fossil-fuel agenda.

The Trump administration has moved to roll back a number of President Barack Obama's environmental protections. Trump has said they hinder business growth.

Catanzaro is the latest exit from the administration. The National Economic Council is now led by Larry Kudlow, who took the job after Gary Cohn resigned. Cohn left after Trump's decision to place tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, a move Cohn opposed.

The Associated Press

Judge: Less mining must be studied for No. 1 US coal region
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — U.S. government officials who engage in regional planning for an area of Wyoming and Montana that supplies 40 percent of the nation's coal must consider reducing coal mining as a way to fight climate change, a judge has ruled.

Friday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls, Montana, applies to the Powder River Basin, where house-sized dump trucks haul loads mined around the clock from open-pit coal mines. Some of the mines measure more than a mile wide.
Morris rejected U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials' argument that climate change could be addressed when they consider whether to allow individual mine expansions.

Morris ordered the government and environmental groups to work together on additional planning for the top U.S. coal producing region. He declined environmentalists' request to halt mining.

Still, environmental groups praised the ruling.

"For decades, the federal government has kept their head in the sand over the climate impacts of fossil fuel extraction on public land," Mike Scott with the one of the six plaintiffs, the Sierra Club, said in a release. "This ruling is the latest example of courts forcing the federal government to be honest with the American public about how coal, oil and gas leasing is contributing to the growing impacts of climate change."

Coal mined from Powder River Basin mines and burned in power plants is responsible for 13 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In September, a ruling by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver cast doubt on a longstanding U.S. government argument that blocking leasing of federal coal reserves wouldn't affect climate change because the coal could simply be mined elsewhere.
Morris sided with the Bureau of Land Management on another climate-change issue: Methane emissions from the oil and gas wells. Environmentalists argued unsuccessfully that BLM planning in Wyoming and Montana should have done more to reduce or offset that pollution.

The agency is reviewing the ruling to determine what it will do next, spokesman Brad Purdy said Monday.

"We certainly have concerns and we are reviewing the decision and its implications," Travis Deti with the Wyoming Mining Association said by email.

The planning occurred as BLM officials in Miles City and Buffalo, Montana, updated their regional resource management plans for the first time in decades. In each case, they considered several alternatives for future coal mining in the Powder River Basin.
In each alternative, BLM officials assumed they would allow identical amounts of land, volume of coal reserves leased and coal production. Morris ruled that not considering alternatives that would result in less mining violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Associated Press
 

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