Coal country sues EPA over climate rule

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A dozen states representing America’s coal country are suing the Environmental Protection Agency to block forthcoming regulations imposing new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The lawsuit, filed late last week in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, accuses the agency of overstepping its authority under the Clean Air Act.

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West Virginia, Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and Indiana are named as plaintiffs in the case.

“Congress has already rejected legislation that would put limits on carbon dioxide emissions, and a law of this significance should be passed by the legislative branch,” said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), a former member of Congress who served in the House Republican leadership, about the legal challenge.

At issue is the EPA’s move to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants via new standards to be imposed under the Clean Air Act. The regulation, a centerpiece of President Obama’s climate initiative, aims to cut carbon pollution from plants by 30 percent by 2030.

The states contend that the Clean Air Act prohibits the EPA from regulating emissions from existing sources. The EPA offered the regulation under Section 111(d) of the statute. But the states argue that plants are already regulated under Section 112, so the EPA has no authority to regulate power plants under Section 111(d).

The lawsuit comes a month after most of the states joined a lawsuit filed by the coal company Murray Energy, which made the same legal argument against the rule.