That didn’t take long. According to 24 states, the “EPA’s rule is flatly illegal” and is an “aggressive” power grab. On the same day that a key feature in President Obama’s climate-change initiative became law, 24 states and other concerned energy entities filed a lawsuit on Friday to block the new regulations that are designed to cut US carbon emissions from hundreds of power plants.
The regulations demand a 32 percent reduction in power plant emissions by 2030, with the baseline set at 2005 emission levels. Coal-burning power plants, which generate about a third of the nation’s power, are the hardest hit under Obama’s plan. West Virginia and Kentucky, two of the states that rely heavily on coal for power and jobs, are spearheading the attack on Obama’s plan.
The suit asks a federal appeals court to immediately block the Environmental Protection Agency regulations that are known as the Clean Power Plan. The purpose of the plan, announced in August, is to require the utility industry to shift to cleaner-burning energy sources to power their energy producing plants. The utility industry is currently the biggest source of carbon emissions in the US contributing to climate change.
Instead of shifting to cleaner methods of energy production, however, the states want to focus on building pollution controls at fossil-fuel-fired plants already in operation.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Obama’s climate change plan is “the single most onerous and illegal regulations that we’ve seen coming out of D.C. in a long time.” During a conference call with reporters, Morrisey said the rule would devastate the coal mining industry, increase consumer energy costs, and jeopardize the energy production business overall.
“The EPA cannot do what it intends to do legally,” he said.
Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator, said that the “Clean Power Plan has strong scientific and legal foundations, provides states with broad flexibilities to design and implement plans, and is clearly within EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act.” She said the administration was “confident we will again prevail against these challenges and will be able to work with states to successfully implement these first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States.”
The states joining West Virginia’s lawsuit include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Arizona, and North Carolina. As many as 15 other states said they would try to intervene in the suit to support the EPA’s position.
According to the EPA, the plan would reduce premature deaths due to power plant emissions by 90 percent and save the average family $85 on their annual energy bill. States are required to submit preliminary plans for achieving emissions reductions by late next year, and they can get extensions for up to two years.
Unless the plan is blocked by the courts or altered, implementation is to begin in 2022.