States accuse EPA of exceeding its authority with climate change plan

The attorneys general in 17 states contend the Environmental Protection Agency has overreached in pursuit of President Obama’s plan to counter the effects of climate change via federal regulation. 

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who is preparing to convene a hearing on the contentious plan, released a legal white paper late Friday spelling out the states’ case against forthcoming limits on carbon emissions from power plants.

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The attorneys general, along with a high-ranking official from an 18th state, concede that the EPA has the power to adopt “procedural regulations” that govern state adoption of performance standards for plants.

But they contend that federal statute dictates the standards themselves are up to the states.

“EPA, if unchecked, will continue to implement regulations which far exceed its statutory authority to the detriment of the States, in whom Congress has vested authority under the Clean Air Act, and whose citizenry and industries will ultimately pay the price of these costly and ineffective regulations,” the officials contend.

Federal courts have previously ruled that the EPA can regulate greenhouse gas.

But the states say the authority is limited and that the administration has misinterpreted the boundaries.

The EPA is expected to unveil revised draft standards for new plants by Sept. 20. Even more contentious are a set of planned regulations for existing plants.

Industry officials warn that the latter rule could amount to a fatal blow to the coal industry, if the standards are more restrictive than current technology can meet.

“The elimination of coal as a fuel for new electric generation would have highly concerning implications for electricity prices and for the economy and job creation in general, as well as the competitiveness of American manufacturing,” the state officials contend.

The rules, along with the rest of Obama’s climate agenda, will be the subject of a hearing of the House subcommittee on Energy and Power, scheduled for Wednesday.

Whitfield, the panel’s chairman, invited 13 agencies to send representatives to testify at the hearing, meant to provide a comprehensive view of the administration’s climate policies.

As of Friday, only the EPA and the Energy Department had agreed to send witnesses.

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