Nessel withdraws lawsuits challenging EPA coal plant, emissions rules

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

Attorney General Dana Nessel has asked to withdraw Michigan’s participation in four lawsuits challenging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines on coal plants that were filed by Republican predecessor Bill Schuette.

“Under my watch, Michigan will not be a party to lawsuits that challenge the reasonable regulations aimed at curbing climate change and protecting against exposure to mercury and other toxic substances," Nessel said in a Tuesday statement.

Schuette joined federal lawsuits filed in D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals against four proposals in 2015 and 2016 in an effort to curb the size and scope of then-President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency.

“You have to ask yourself: What will this coalition of liberal big money and government do next?” Schuette wrote in an email to Michigan Republicans in 2015. “Tell us what food we can eat and drink? Go after our trucks and SUVs, killing Michigan’s manufacturing jobs? They are striking at the very heart of our freedoms.”

The EPA's Clean Power Plan under Obama required states to get at least 28 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar. It sought a 32 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Other EPA rules challenged by Schuette would limit emissions of mercury, methane, greenhouse gases and other pollutants from power plants and oil and gas operations.

The Clean Power Plan was halted by litigation in 2016. In 2017, President Donald Trump rescinded several climate- and pollution-related executive orders, memorandums and reports from the Obama administration and proposed a repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

Nessel’s decision to withdraw from the lawsuits was applauded by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, which called the decision a “clear and timely message.”

“It’s time for state leaders to take action on climate change and protect our air, land and water from toxic pollution generated by dirty coal-fired power plants,” LCV Director Lisa Wozniak said in a statement.

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