More than 70 lawmakers join suit challenging Trump power plant rollbacks

More than 70 lawmakers join suit challenging Trump power plant rollbacks

More than 70 Democratic lawmakers from both chambers have joined a suit challenging the Trump administration for rolling back Obama-era power plant regulations.

The Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August scraps former President Obama’s Clean Power Plant rule. Lawmakers in the House and Senate filed separate amicus briefs challenging the rule late Friday.

The ACE rule aims to give states more time and authority to decide how to implement the best new technology to ease net emissions from coal-fired plants. The rule does not set any standards to cap those emissions.

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Critics argue ACE allows for only modest pollution controls at power plants, a feature that, if upheld, could hamstring future administrations from addressing climate-altering pollution through regulation under the Clean Air Act.

“The Clean Air Act and its amendments granted EPA authority with significant flexibility to address unforeseen air pollution challenges, including climate change,” Reps. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoManchin puts foot down on key climate provision in spending bill House Democrats outline plan for transition to clean electricity The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Final countdown: Senate inches toward last infrastructure vote MORE (D-N.Y) and Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanDemocratic leaders racing toward Monday infrastructure vote WHIP LIST: How House Democrats say they'll vote on infrastructure bill Democrats seek to cool simmering tensions MORE (D-Calif.) wrote in a statement after filing a brief alongside 70 other lawmakers.

“We will continue to oppose this administration’s willful misinterpretations of environmental laws that seek to justify rolling back critical public health protections and undermine future administrations’ ability to safeguard our environment and the American people,” they wrote.

The Trump EPA had long argued the Clean Power Plant rule was too broad, creating an undue burden on industry.

"CPP's overreach would have driven up energy prices for consumers and businesses alike," EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Former EPA chief to chair pro-Trump think tank's environmental center Lobbying world MORE said when the rule was first released. "We are proposing a better plan — it respects the rule of law and will enable states to build affordable, clean, reliable energy portfolios."

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Reached for comment Monday, the agency said, "EPA looks forward to defending the Affordable Clean Energy Rule before the court."

But a brief from senators argued the EPA has been too aligned with industry interests since the start of the Trump administration. 

“The record of this case, and of other regulatory matters of which this court may take notice, indeed raise the question whether this EPA is even capable of fair decision-making in matters involving the interests of the fossil fuel industry, or whether rampant cronyism, conflicts of interest, and corruption leave EPA under present leadership unable to conform itself to the strictures of [federal administrative law],” according to the filing from Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehousePlastics industry lashes out at 'regressive' Democratic tax plan Democrats draw red lines in spending fight What Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling MORE (D-R.I.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyWarren, Bush offer bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratorium Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Six Democrats blast Energy Department's uranium reserve pitch MORE (D-Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Senate Finance chair backs budget action on fossil fuel subsidies Top Democrat says he'll push to address fossil fuel tax breaks in spending bill Democrats revive filibuster fight over voting rights bill MORE (D-Ore.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzPanic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda Hotel workers need a lifeline; It's time to pass The Save Hotel Jobs Act Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Scientists potty train cows to cut pollution MORE (D-Hawaii), and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand11 senators urge House to pass .5T package before infrastructure bill Hochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees MORE (D-N.Y.).

Updated at 3:10 p.m.