States seek delay of EPA climate change rule

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Sixteen states have formally asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to delay its new climate rule for power plants.

The long-shot request filed Wednesday by West Virginia and others is the first step in their plans to challenge the regulations in federal court.

They want the Obama administration to put the rule on hold until all litigation against it is complete.

The request came two days after President Obama unveiled the final version of the rule, which mandates a 32 percent reduction in the power sector’s carbon emissions by 2030.

“This request is a necessary first step and prerequisite to confronting this illegal power grab by the Obama administration and EPA,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement. “These regulations, if allowed to proceed, will do serious harm to West Virginia and the U.S. economy, and that is why we are taking quick action to bring this process to a halt.”

The states contend that the EPA greatly exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act and the Constitution in writing its regulations. It says the courts are likely to agree.

In the formal request to the EPA, the states said waiting to implement the rule would protect consumers and others from regulations that are likely to be overturned.

“Absent an immediate stay, the section 111(d) rule will coerce the states to expend enormous public resources and to put aside sovereign priorities to prepare state plans of unprecedented scope and complexity,” they wrote.

“In addition, the states’ citizens will be forced to pay higher energy bills as power plants shut down. In the end, the courts are likely to conclude that the section 111(d) rule is unlawful.”

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison reiterated the Obama administration’s position that the rule falls within the confines of the law and will stand up to court scrutiny.

“These final guidelines are consistent with the law and align with the approach that Congress and EPA have always taken to regulate emissions from this and all other industrial sectors — setting source-level, source-category-wide standards that sources can meet through a variety of technologies and measures,” she said.

The National Mining Association filed a similar request Monday. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he was “not aware of any decision to do that.”

The states and other interested parties had to wait until the rule was published in the Federal Register to file lawsuits.