Oklahoma sues to stop Obama’s climate rule

Oklahoma sues to stop Obama’s climate rule
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Oklahoma’s attorney general filed a lawsuit Wednesday to stop the Obama administration’s signature proposed climate change regulation.

The federal lawsuit from Attorney General Scott Pruitt comes less than a month after the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out two challenges to the same regulation, saying they were premature, because federal courts cannot review rules that are not final. Oklahoma was a party to one of the lawsuits.

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In a statement, Pruitt said the regulation, in which the Environmental Protection Agency hopes to slash carbon dioxide pollution from the power sector 30 percent, violates Oklahoma’s electricity reliability and affordability.

“The EPA does not possess the authority under the Clean Air Act to accomplish what it proposes in the unlawful Clean Power Plan,” he said in the statement.

“The EPA is ignoring the authority granted by Congress to states to regulate power plant emissions at their source. The Clean Power Plan is an unlawful attempt to expand federal bureaucrats’ authority over states’ energy economies in order to shutter coal-fired power plants and eventually other sources of fossil-fuel generated electricity.”

The case was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, in Tulsa, Okla.

Pruitt faces an uphill battle in trying to get the rule stopped in federal court.

The D.C. Circuit Court said in June that it has never overturned a proposed rule, and it was not ready to make history.

“In justiciable cases, this Court has authority to review the legality of final agency rules. We do not have authority to review proposed agency rules,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the court.

“In short, we deny the petitions for review and the petition for a writ of prohibition because the complained-of agency action is not final.”

But in the complaint filed Wednesday, Pruitt argues that the court has authority because Oklahoma is already experiencing the effects of the EPA’s rule, and there is nothing that could happen, short of judicial intervention, that could stop it.

“Unless this Court intervenes, Oklahoma will have no meaningful or adequate remedy to enforce the limitations that the Clean Air Act and the Constitution place on the authority of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and its Administrator and to avoid injury to its sovereign, quasi-sovereign, fiscal, and economic interests,” Pruitt wrote in his complaint.

The state also asks the court for a preliminary injunction to immediately stop the EPA from moving forward on the rule while the court proceedings go on.

Pruitt, a Republican, has been one of the most vocal opponents of President Obama’s EPA in general and the climate rule specifically.

He told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in May that “the EPA, under this administration, treats states like a vessel of federal will. The EPA believes the states exist to implement the policies the administration sees fit, regardless of whether laws like the Clean Air Act permit such action.”

The EPA has repeatedly defended the regulation as a legal and necessary exercise of its authority under the Clean Air Act.

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison declined to respond directly to the lawsuit, but generally defended the regulation.

“Called for by President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA’s approach is built on a time-tested state-federal partnership in the Clean Air Act, which was established by Congress, for EPA to establish public health goals and then give states important flexibility to design plans to meet their individual and unique needs,” she said. “The plan will be affordable, will drive American innovation and American jobs, and will demonstrate our leadership in the international community.”

In addition to the legal action, Republicans in Congress are working to thwart the rule.

The House voted last week to let states opt out of complying with the rule, while delaying its effects until all court challenges are complete.

The Senate is working on a similar bill that goes even further by overturning the rule and making it very difficult for the Obama administration to re-write it.

- Updated at 8:26 p.m.