Kentucky’s new top environmental regulator, recently retired from working for the coal industry, has filed a challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first rules to curb power plant pollution blamed for causing climate change.
Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely, a former Arch Coal executive, sent a petition to the EPA Monday calling for reconsideration of the carbon dioxide rules. On behalf of the new Matt Bevin administration, Snavely writes that EPA changed so much of the Clean Power Plan between its initial proposal and final rules that Kentucky was unable to effectively participate in the federal agency’s public comment period.
Specifically, the challenge states, the public was not able to raise objections to provisions that were included in the final plan, but were not part of the government’s initial proposal.
“The EPA should convene a proceeding for reconsideration of the rule … so that the public has the opportunity to make meaningful comment on these issues,” Snavely wrote.
The Energy and Environment Cabinet also claims that the EPA failed to do a state-by-state cost-benefit analysis and that its state-by-state targets were set without considering fiscal consequences.
Louisville environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, agreed that there was a big difference between the proposed and final rules, and said the energy cabinet may have a legitimate legal point to make with its new petition to the EPA. But he also said EPA attorneys clearly felt they were following the requirements of the Clean Air Act, and that overall, he believes the Clean Power Plan can survive a legal challenge.
Eventually, he said, the public comment question will probably be for a judge to answer as part of litigation against the rule.
Kentucky, Indiana and other states have already filed a lawsuit challenging the power plant regulations, which seek an overall 32 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Each state has its own targets and is responsible for coming up with a plan to meet them. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader, has called on states to defy the EPA and hold off on developing a compliance plan.
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- On December 22, 2015