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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 TonkoOvernight Energy: Trump officials finalize plan to open up protected areas of Tongass to logging | Feds say offshore testing for oil can proceed despite drilling moratorium | Dems question EPA's postponement of inequality training Democrats question EPA postponement of environmental inequality training Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race MORE (D-N.Y) and Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanBickering Democrats return with divisions Lobbying world OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes 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: Trump administration denies permit for controversial Pebble Mine | Progressives see red flags in regulatory official on Biden transition team | EPA won't require industry to guarantee funding for toxic waste cleanups EPA won't require industry to guarantee funding for toxic waste cleanups OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds 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 WhitehouseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee MORE (D-R.I.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE (D-Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Supreme Court declines to hear case challenging unlimited super PAC fundraising Trump supporters demonstrate across the country following Biden-Harris win MORE (D-Ore.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzTech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing Bitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination MORE (D-Hawaii), and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Social media responds to Harris making history: 'I feel like our ancestors are rejoicing' MORE (D-N.Y.).

Updated at 3:10 p.m.