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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 HuffmanOVERNIGHT 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 Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  House passes sweeping clean energy bill | Pebble Mine CEO resigns over secretly recorded comments about government officials  | Corporations roll out climate goals amid growing pressure to deliver 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: EPA eases permitting for modifications to polluting facilities | Rocky Mountain National Park closed due to expanding Colorado wildfire | Trump order strips workplace protections from civil servants EPA eases permitting for modifications to polluting facilities OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate 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 WhitehouseSenators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Democrats, gun control groups attack NRA for efforts to reshape judiciary Hillicon Valley: Threatening emails raise election concerns | Quibi folds after raising nearly B | Trump signs law making it a crime to hack voting systems MORE (D-R.I.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOcasio-Cortez says having Green New Deal would have helped handle COVID-19 pandemic 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 Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes MORE (D-Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyGOP clears key hurdle on Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, setting up Monday confirmation Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump, Biden renew push for Latino support MORE (D-Ore.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Coordinated federal leadership is needed for recovery of US travel and tourism Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing MORE (D-Hawaii), and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandInternal Democratic poll: Desiree Tims gains on Mike Turner in Ohio House race Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter's handling of New York Post article raises election night concerns | FCC to move forward with considering order targeting tech's liability shield | YouTube expands polices to tackle QAnon Democrats question Amazon over reported interference of workers' rights to organize MORE (D-N.Y.).

Updated at 3:10 p.m.