Publication of Clean Power Plan prompts immediate lawsuits

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than two dozen states, including West Virginia, are moving quickly on legal challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

Setting carbon emissions reduction goals for existing power plants by 2030, the Clean Power Plan was published in the Federal Register on Friday. With it, states will be required to develop their own plans for cutting emissions by an average of 32 percent.

“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,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, in a Friday statement.

Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia’s attorney general, does not agree.

“The Clean Power Plan is one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in the nation’s history,” Morrisey said Friday. “West Virginia is proud to be leading the charge against the (Obama) Administration’s blatant and unprecedented attack on coal.”

Morrisey’s previous attempt to challenge the rules with a coalition of other states was found to be premature because it came before the Clean Power Plan was published.

“EPA claims to have sweeping power to enact such regulations based on a rarely-used provision of the Clean Air Act, but such legal authority simply does not exist,” Morrisey said.

In addition to the 25 states, Murray Energy — which claims to be the largest coal mining company in the U.S. — is filing two lawsuits.

The first deals with the Clean Power Plan, calling the regulations illegal and “an unprecedented attempt by EPA to commandeer and redesign the United States’ electrical system.”

The second lawsuit from Murray Energy challenges greenhouse gas standards for new power plants.

Next week on Capitol Hill, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) plans to join U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in introducing a resolution of disapproval, what will be an attempt to stop the EPA from moving forward with the new regulations for existing power plants.

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can overturn a federal agency’s actions once a rule is formally published.

“Congress deserves to have an opportunity to vote on whether the (Obama) Administration’s far-reaching energy regulations should go into effect and I look forward to working with (U.S. Senate Majority) Leader (Mitch) McConnell (R-Ky.) and others to make that happen,” Capito said in a statement.

McConnell has already indicated he’ll introduce a similar measure dealing with emissions limits for new power plants. The Washington Times reported U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) would join McConnell in filing that resolution.

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