CHARLESTON, W.Va. –The attorney general in Kentucky says he’s confident his state, West Virginia and ten other states will prevail with a lawsuit challenging the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to limit carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.
Jack Conway said those with the group, as a whole, are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia to answer a question.
“Look, can the EPA even do this? And, if they can’t, let’s go ahead and get the injunctive relief to which we’re entitled so the coal markets don’t suffer in the meantime,” he said.
“The harm is happening right now,” said Conway of why such legal relief is being sought long before the proposed regulations for emissions, which the EPA released publicly in June, are finalized next year.
Conway was scheduled to talk more about the litigation–alongside West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey–on Wednesday afternoon in Ashland, Ky. State officials from Kentucky along with members of the Kentucky Coal Association and the West Virginia Coal Association were also expected to attend.
Their argument is the EPA already regulates carbon dioxide under a different section of the Clean Water Act and so such standards of performance for existing plants, established under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, cannot be applied.
They’ve also contended West Virginia and Kentucky stand to take the hardest hits from the new regulations.
“What Patrick and I are trying to do is say, ‘Listen, this is an industry that’s been very important to central Appalachia. This is an industry that’s very important to eastern Kentucky, very important to West Virginia,’” Conway said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“It’s already under enough pressure. Let’s not have this onerous burden and single out a couple of states disproportionately for what really ought to be a shared enterprise here.”
EPA officials have said the goal of the Clean Power Act is to reduce carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants by a national average of 30 percent, compared with 2005 levels, before 2030.
If the 645-page draft rule is implemented, states would have different deadlines for meeting individualized emission-reduction targets.
There’s some flexibility. States could meet their specific targets by reducing energy demand through more energy efficiency programs, by utilizing solar, wind energy or natural gas more or by installing pollution-control technology.