Texas, WV spearheading lawsuit seeking to end EPA Clean Power Plan

By Chris Dickerson and David Yates | Oct 23, 2015

Attorneys General Patrick Morrisey (West Virginia) and Ken Paxton are leading a coalition of 22 others states in a lawsuit seeking to strike down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.

“Once again, President Obama and his EPA have overstepped their legal authority and enacted a regulation that will dramatically raise Texans’ electric bills and threaten the reliability of the electric grid,” said Paxton. “The Texas Attorney General’s Office is leading a nationwide coalition, along with West Virginia, to prevent massive increases in electric bills that would hurt hard-working families, the elderly and the poor.”

The attorneys general announced the lawsuit Oct. 23, contending the EPA rule unlawfully expands the federal government’s regulatory power over electricity production and consumption in nearly every state.

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

The final Clean Power Plan rule was published Oct. 23 in the Federal Register, starting a 90-day comment period for comments. The publication of the rule gives states and energy companies the opportunity to file lawsuits to challenge the legality of the rule.

The Clean Power Plan forces states to develop plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 32 percent by 2030. The agency says this goal can be accomplished by reducing or eliminating coal-based energy generation.

“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.

The WV AG's office says forcing such changes in electricity production, coal-fired plants will be subjected to costly compliance measures or closure, leading to skyrocketing electricity rates and loss of reliable electricity for West Virginian families.

Gov. Greg Abbott believes the plan is a federal power grab that tramples on the rights of states.

“The EPA’s latest power grab – disguised as a ‘Clean Power Plan’ – takes already burdensome federal regulations a step further by driving up energy costs, stagnating job growth, threatening the reliability of our electric grid and treading all over the State of Texas’ sovereignty,” said Abbott.

“With seemingly no concept of what it costs to support a family, start a business or save for retirement, the federal government has yet again proven its readiness to sacrifice American jobs in the name of expanding bureaucratic authority and pushing its liberal agenda.”

In the Petition for Review and Stay Motions, filed Oct. 23 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the states argue the rule is illegal and will have devastating impacts on the states and their citizens.

The states claim that Section 111(d) rule exceeds EPA’s authority by unlawfully forcing states to fundamentally alter state resource-planning and energy policy by shifting from coal-fired generation to other sources of power generation, with a significant emphasis on renewable sources. The states also say the rule is illegal because it seeks to require states to regulate coal-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, even though EPA already regulates those same plants under Section 112 of the act.

The states challenging the rule are West Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Arizona Corporations Commission, and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

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