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Tuesday, June 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Power Plant Emission Limits Face Challenge

(CN) - Two dozen states have asked the D.C. Circuit to block a new climate-change-minded federal law that they say will inflate electricity bills for families.

Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act requires states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions nationwide by 32 percent by 2030, relative to 2005 levels, the Environmental Protection Agency notes.

On Friday, the same day that the EPA published its new CO2 emissions guidelines for power plants, 24 states and regulator agencies in petitioning the D.C. Circuit for review.

Wisconsin says it joined the effort because it looking at a costly 41 percent reduction.

"The rule purports to require states to reorganize their energy grids, in order to reduce carbon emissions from electric-generating plants," the state Department of Justice said. "Wisconsin Public Service Commission estimated the proposed rule would cost the state as much as $13.4 billion."

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is leading the pack, and most of challengers hail from the South and Midwest.

New Jersey and a few western states like Arizona joined the petition as well. Many of them were part of a previously unsuccessful challenge in which the D.C. Circuit refused to thwart the rule before it became official.

The two-paragraph petition itself says little - only that "the petitioners will show that the final rule is in excess of the [EPA's] statutory authority, goes beyond the bounds set by the United States Constitution, and otherwise is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with the law."

Wisconsin officials gave more specifics in a statement Friday afternoon, saying the EPA's rule "would result in dramatically higher electricity bills and significantly less reliable utility services for families, businesses, hospitals and schools across the country."

Claiming that EPA has no authority to promulgate Section 111(d), Wisconsin says that EPA already regulates coal-fired power plants under Section 112.

It says "double regulation ... is flatly prohibited by the Clean Air Act," and that the rule will send manufacturers out of state.

For its part, the EPA calls the rule "a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change."

"With strong but achievable standards for power plants, and customized goals for states to cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, the Clean Power Plan provides national consistency, accountability and a level playing field while reflecting each state's energy mix," an EPA fact sheet states.

On the eve of the rule's publication, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune warned that his organization will "vigorously defend the Clean Power Plan against any polluter sponsored attacks that aim to stifle America's transition to a clean energy economy and protect vulnerable communities from climate disruption."

"We expect polluters and their allies to throw everything they've got at the Clean Power Plan, and we expect them to fail," Brune said in a statement. "The Clean Power Plan is based on a law passed by Congress, upheld by the Supreme Court, and demanded by the American people.

"The Clean Power Plan will help us move toward a new era of clean, affordable energy that protects the health of our communities, grows our economy, and signals to the rest of the world, ahead of international negotiations in Paris later this year, that the U.S. is serious about combating the climate crisis."

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