Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt isn’t wasting any time when it comes to challenging proposed rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired electric power plants.
Pruitt joined attorneys general from 11 other states to file a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency on the proposed rules, which were released in early June.
The attorneys general — 11 Republicans and one Democrat — contend the agency doesn’t have the legal authority to issue the proposed rules under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. They said the proposed rules are in conflict with a 2011 settlement the EPA signed with some states after a lawsuit brought by several environmental groups.
“It’s obviously something that needed to be litigated, and it needed to be litigated now to address this tension that exists,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt said the 2011 settlement said the EPA would use another section of the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions from power plants and other stationary sources.
“I believe the EPA does not possess authority under Section 111(d) to take the action they took (in June),” Pruitt said.
Pruitt said Congress would have to change the Clean Air Act for the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the way the agency proposed.
The EPA wants to cut carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030 under its proposed rules for existing fossil-fired electric plants. States have different goals based on their fuel mix from 2012.
The agency said states would have flexibility to meet those targets, including phasing out coal plants, making them more efficient or switching from coal to natural gas. States also could implement programs to cut electricity demand, use more renewable energy or join with other states to meet the cuts needed by the proposal.
Following its announcement of proposed rules in June, the EPA released a legal analysis of its power to regulate carbon dioxide under Section 111(d). It’s an area of the law that hasn’t been tested much in the courts.
EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Colaizzi said the agency couldn’t comment on the lawsuit brought by the attorneys general. The suit was filed in the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia.
Rules and past history
“History has shown that EPA writes solid rules and they stand up in court — the courts have reaffirmed our science and reasoning time and time again,” Colaizzi said in an email. “The Supreme Court made clear in 2007, and just recently confirmed, EPA has an obligation to limit carbon pollution because it’s a harm to human health.”
Separately, coal producer Murray Energy Corp. has filed a lawsuit against the EPA on the proposed carbon dioxide rules. Murray Energy, which has coal operations and 7,300 employees in six states, said the rules will harm its business.
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- On August 5, 2014