The coal and utility industries are lobbying Vice President Dick Cheney’s secretive energy task force to ease a clean-air rule so that major upgrades can be made at power plants without setting in motion tough pollution-control requirements. The Clinton-era U.S. EPA sued eight big utilities for upgrading power plants without also improving pollution controls. But the White House could direct the EPA to change its interpretation of the Clean Air Act rule, effectively ending the lawsuits and saving the utility industry tens of billions of dollars in potential fines. “The current political climate is the best we’ve seen in many years,” said a major coal-company lobbyist. Meanwhile, the oil industry is asking the task force to relax EPA regulations to make it easier for the industry to expand refineries and pipelines.