LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Four conservation and public health groups sued the U.S. En­vi­ron­mental Protection Agen­cy on Fri­day for approving a permit for a new gas-fired power plant in Palm­dale.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, claims the EPA failed to ade­quate­ly consider requiring clean-en­er­gy alternatives relying on bat­tery storage that would limit fur­ther deterioration of the re­gion’s unhealthy air quality.

“Local residents are con­ten­ding with some of the worst ozone and PM pollution in the coun­try; EPA’s decision allows mas­sive more health-damaging air pol­lu­tion to be spewed into the air we breath,” said Jane Will­iams, ex­ec­u­tive director of Cal­if­or­nia Com­mu­­nities Against Tox­ics. “EPA seems determined to keep the wheels on this highly pol­lu­ting, jal­opy technology.”

EPA rep­re­sen­ta­tives said the agency does not com­ment on pending litigation, but it looks forward to arguing its position before the appellate panel.

The lawsuit was triggered by the EPA’s decision in April 2018 to issue a “prevention of sig­nif­ic­ant deterioration” permit for a com­bined-cycle gas-fired power plant in Palmdale. The “de­ter­i­or­a­tion” permit is required only in areas that already have bad air pollution.

In approving the permit, the agency not only rejected the use of battery-storage technology to re­duce emissions but also failed to accurately account for cu­mu­la­tive emissions in the area, Will­iams said.

The Center for Biological Di­ver­sity, Desert Citizens Against Pol­lution, California Com­mu­nit­ies Against Toxics and Sierra Club appealed that per­mit de­cision to the EPA’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Appeals Board, which upheld the permit.

“The whole point of the air-per­mitting process is to limit new pollution in areas that are al­ready suffering from bad air qual­ity,” said Neil Car­man of the Sierra Club. “By fail­ing to con­sid­er new control tech­nol­o­gies to reduce pollution when it reviewed this permit, EPA ig­nored the very purpose of the program.”

According to the Center for Bio­logical Diversity, air pollution in the region would worsen as a re­sult of the EPA’s approval of the permit.

“It’s appalling that the Trump EPA rubber-stamped more emis­sions that will worsen Southern Cal­ifornia’s air quality,” said Lisa Bel­enky, a senior attorney for the center. “There’s no excuse for ap­prov­ing more dirty fossil-fuel emissions when cleaner, safer tech­nologies are available.”

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