Michigan joins suit to overturn feds’ power plant rule

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Michigan has joined 23 other states in asking a federal court to overturn the Obama administration’s new rule for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying it exceeds the legal authority of the Environmental Protection Agency and is unconstitutional.

Attorney General Bill Schuette “is concerned by yet one more executive action taken by President Obama and the EPA that violates the Clean Air Act and causes the price of electricity to increase, placing jobs and pay checks at risk and costing Michigan families more,” Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely said.

Led by West Virginia, the states are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to block the EPA from enforcing its new carbon limits, published Friday, which call on states to reduce emissions an average of 32 percent by 2030. The states say the rule will cause higher electricity rates and hurt the coal-mining industry.

President Barack Obama’s plan requires states to generate 28 percent of their electrical capacity from renewable sources such as wind and solar, and was expected to face legal challenges.

His administration and environmental advocates say the regulations are needed to mitigate the effects of climate change.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Friday the rule is grounded in “strong scientific and legal foundations” and is “clearly” within the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.

“We are 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 from the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States,” McCarthy said.

West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey argues that the rule is illegal in part because it seeks to regulate coal-fired power plants under one segment of the Clean Air Act, although it already regulates those plants under another section of the statute.

“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 a statement.

The other states joining the challenge are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, 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.

A dozen states including New York said Friday they anticipate getting involved next week in the litigation in defense of the clean power plan.

“We believe there’s no merit to the argument that EPA had to make a choice between regulating toxic emissions from power plants to address problems such as mercury contaminated fish, or regulating greenhouse gases from those same power plants to address harms associated with climate change,” Michael J. Myers, New York assistant attorney general in the Environmental Protection Bureau, told reporters on a call.

“Those are two very different problems and it doesn’t make sense that Congress would have tasked EPA with addressing one of those problems, but not the other.”


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