The owner of eight coal-fired power plants in central and southern Illinois lobbied the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose rules that would loosen pollution regulations, according to the Chicago Tribune. Instead of limiting the rate of pollution from the coal plants, the state would set an annual cap on how much sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) those eight plants could emit collectively—and those caps are higher than what the coal plants have collectively emitted annually for several years.
The proposed amendments to state rules come just months after the state of Illinois approved subsidies for the continued operation of Excelon nuclear energy plants in December 2016. According to the Tribune, Dynegy saw its opportunity to open discussions with lawmakers after its competition received a boost. Although Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner denied Dynegy’s request for comparable subsidies, e-mails seen by the Tribune suggest the state’s EPA had been talking with the Dynegy’s lobbyist about changes to emissions rules “since at least November.”
The Tribune wrote that the Illinois agency is working “to keep the financially struggling coal plants open by giving Houston-based Dynegy more flexibility to operate individual generating units, several of which are not equipped with modern pollution controls.”