States sue over EPA rule on new power plants

Twenty-three states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its emissions rules for new and modified power plants. 

The states, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, say the EPA exceeded its authority when issuing the rules, which look to cut down on carbon emissions from future power plants around the United States. 

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The EPA’s rule sets carbon limits for natural gas and coal-fired power plants, requiring the plants to implement new technologies to decrease their emissions.

In a statement, Morrisey said the rule would hurt the state’s coal industry. 

“This gamble proves far too costly for West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “EPA cannot rely on experimental and costly technology that threatens hard-working West Virginians whose livelihoods are dependent upon the coal industry.”

The new plant rule is separate from the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon emissions from existing power plants. Taken together, the regulations are designed to reduce power sector carbon emissions, a strategy at the heart of President Obama's climate platform. 

Both rules have run into legal and legislative opposition among Republicans and red-state Democrats. 

A House panel approved Congressional Review Act resolutions against the two rules on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the Senate will take up similar measures soon, though President Obama has promised to veto them. 

More than half the states have already sued over the Clean Power Plan, including a coalition similar to the one led by West Virginia in the new power plant lawsuit. The states are hoping a court panel will stay the rules’ implementation during litigation, a decision that will come no earlier than late December.

“These unlawful policies cannot go forward,” Morrisey said. “Not only will EPA’s rules threaten good-paying jobs and small business throughout West Virginia, this unilateral action is unlawful.”

The states joining West Virginia include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.