24 States Sue Obama Over Clean Power Plan

Twenty four states and a coal company filed lawsuits yesterday over President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which was formally published Friday. "The Clean Power Plan, which requires states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030, is intended to help slow climate change resulting from the burning of fossil fuels," explains InsideClimate News. "The plan has been the target of legal challenges and legislative campaigns since it was proposed in 2014 and finalized in August."

The two dozen states and Murray Energy have accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of "going far beyond the authority Congress granted to it," according to The Hill. They are calling on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn the rule, and they are asking the court to "immediately stop its implementation" while the lawsuit plays out."

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is leading the charge, called it “the single most onerous and illegal regulations that we’ve seen coming out of DC in a long time." He added, "the EPA cannot do what it intends to do legally.”

Morrisey is joined by attorneys general from Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Arizona and North Carolina.

The EPA maintains that its rule is legal. “The Clean Power Plan has strong scientific and legal foundations, provides states with broad flexibilities to design and implement plans, and is clearly within EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act,” U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement.

Fifteen other states, including Washington, DC, say they plan to intervene on behalf of the EPA, arguing that the rules are not only legal, they are necessary. “Significant reductions in these emissions must occur to prevent increases in the frequency, magnitude and scale of the adverse impacts of climate change,” wrote New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a letter to the EPA in August.

Though the rule's opponents cry foul, "officials in practically every state have been doing some amount of work [to comply with the standards]," Kyle Danish, a partner at Van Ness Feldman law firm, told InsideClimate News. Danish is helping the industry comply with the regulations and says, "many states have been taking a number of steps to start putting together compliance plans."

Think Progress writes:

The arguments will likely come down to debates over whether the EPA has overstepped its jurisdiction by allowing flexible state plans to include “outside the fence” measures such as efficiency and renewable energy, and whether another section of the Clean Air Act, which governs mercury emissions from power plants, renders the EPA unable to also regulate carbon.

Michael Myers, assistant attorney general of New York, disputed both those claims. The mercury or carbon argument “doesn’t make any sense,” Myers told ThinkProgress. “The contention that Congress intended the EPA to pick one of those, not both of them, is not an argument that is going to prevail in court.”

Environmental groups, including Earthjustice, Natural Resource Defense Council, Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund have also vowed to intervene on behalf of the EPA.

“Its opponents are on the wrong side of the law and the wrong side of history,” Howard Fox, an attorney with Earthjustice, told Think Progress.

Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, said in a statement:

Time and again, we’ve seen Big Polluters and their allies attack the lifesaving protections that let our loved ones breathe easier and keep our clean energy economy thriving, and this challenge to the Clean Power Plan is no different. 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 that the U.S. is serious about combating the climate crisis ahead of international negotiations in Paris later this year. It’s a huge step in taking action against climate disruption by pulling together state-level carbon pollution reduction plans and holding polluters accountable for doing their fair share.

They can throw everything and the kitchen sink at this standard, but the Clean Power Plan’s push to cut dangerous carbon pollution from power plants for the first time ever is based on a law passed by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court, and it has the overwhelming support of the American people.

Many have noted that it's no surprise that most of the opponents come from coal-heavy states and that all but three of those states (Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina) have Republican attorneys general.

Almost all of the states suing the U.S. EPA rely heavily on coal and have Republican attorneys general. Photo credit: Tim McDonnell

Rhea Suh at the Natural Resources Defense Council says, "Big Coal and its political allies" are "not going to get away with it — the stakes are too high for that."

She writes:

We just finished the hottest summer since global record-keeping began in 1880, with world land and sea temperatures 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average. Last year was the hottest year ever recorded. And 19 of the hottest years on record have all occurred in the past two decades.

Small wonder that seven in 10 Americans understand the planet is warming. No surprise, either, that the pool of doubters who dismiss the definitive science on the issue has reached a shallow 16 percent of the population— the lowest in modern time. Those are the findings of a poll taken in September by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College, another sign the tide is turning toward real action on climate change.

Joanne Spalding, chief climate counsel for Sierra Club, told Think Progress: “We are confident that the Clean Power Plan is on legally sound footing. EPA does have the authority. The law says so and the Supreme Court has said so, twice. The matter, I believe, should be put to rest."


Mexico Braces for Hurricane Patricia: ‘Strongest Storm Ever Measured’

Why Bill Gates’ Position on Divesting From Fossil Fuels Is Wrong

Donald Trump Blames Intern for Tweet Insulting Monsanto, Ben Carson and Iowa Republicans

World’s First Smart Microhabitat Grows Just About Anything

Show Comments ()
Solar shade canopies. University of Hawaii

This College Could Become the First 100% Renewable Campus in U.S.

As a growing number of U.S. cities make pledges towards 100 percent renewables, it's easy to forget that the entire state of Hawaii set this important benchmark three years ago when it mandated that all of its electricity must come from renewable sources no later than 2045.

To help the Aloha State meet this ambitious commitment, in 2015, the University of Hawaii (UH) and the Hawaiian Legislature set a collective goal for the university system to be "net-zero" by Jan. 1, 2035, which means the total amount of energy consumed is equal to the amount of renewable energy created.

Keep reading... Show less

Silver Nanoparticles in Clothing Wash Out, May Be Toxic

By Sukalyan Sengupta and Tabish Nawaz

Humans have known since ancient times that silver kills or stops the growth of many microorganisms. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have used silver preparations for treating ulcers and healing wounds. Until the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, colloidal silver (tiny particles suspended in a liquid) was a mainstay for treating burns, infected wounds and ulcers. Silver is still used today in wound dressings, in creams and as a coating on medical devices.

Keep reading... Show less
4.4 million premature air pollution deaths could be avoided in Kolkata if emissions are reduced swiftly this century. M M / CC BY-SA 2.0

Study Finds Timely Emissions Reductions Could Prevent 153 Million Air Pollution Deaths This Century

One of the roadblocks to swift action on climate change is the human brain's tendency to focus on threats and stimuli that are an obvious and noticeable part of their everyday lives, rather than an abstract and future problem, as Amit Dhir explained in The Decision Lab.

Now, a study published in Nature Climate Change Monday shows that acting quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions would also reduce the air pollution that is already a major urban killer, thereby saving millions of lives within the next 40 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Lands threatened by BLM's March 2018 sale include Hatch Point. Neal Clark / SUWA

Trump Administration Sells Oil and Gas Leases Near Utah National Monuments

The Interior Department on Tuesday is auctioning off 32 parcels of public lands in southeastern Utah for oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) lease sale includes more than 51,000 acres of land near Bears Ears—the national monument significantly scaled back by the Trump administration last year—as well as the Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments.

Keep reading... Show less
Katharine Hayhoe talks climate communication hacks at the Natural Products Expo West Convention. Climate Collaborative

Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate Change

By Katie O'Reilly

Katharine Hayhoe isn't your typical atmospheric scientist. Throughout her career, the evangelical Christian and daughter of missionaries has had to convince many (including her pastor husband) that science and religion need not be at odds when it comes to climate change. Hayhoe, who directs Texas Tech's University's Climate Science Center, is CEO of ATMOS Research, a scientific consulting company, and produces the PBS Kids' web series Global Weirding, rose to national prominence in early 2012 after then-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich dropped her chapter from a book he was editing about the environment. The reason? Hayhoe's arguments affirmed that climate change was no liberal hoax. The Toronto native attracted the fury of Rush Limbaugh, who encouraged his listeners to harass her.

Keep reading... Show less
Rising Tide NA / Twitter

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Protest Grows: Arrests Include a Greenpeace Founder, Juno-Nominated Grandfather

By Andy Rowell

Just because you get older, it doesn't mean you cannot stop taking action for what you believe in. And Monday was a case in point. Two seventy-year-olds, still putting their bodies on the line for environmental justice and indigenous rights.

Early Monday morning, the first seventy-year-old, a grandfather of two, and former nominee for Canada's Juno musical award, slipped into Kinder Morgan's compound at one of its sites for the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline and scaled a tree and then erected a mid-air platform with a hammock up in the air.

Keep reading... Show less

The Grapes of Trash

By Marlene Cimons

German monk and theologian Martin Luther probably said it best: "Beer is made by men, wine by God." It's true—the world loves its wine. Americans, in fact, downed close to a billion gallons of it in 2016. But winemakers create a lot of waste when they produce all that vino, most of it in seeds, stalks and skins.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Mike Pompeo Could Be Even Worse for the Environment Than Rex Tillerson

By Kelle Louaillier

As Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson was one of the most blatant revolving-door cases in the Trump administration and a clear sign that Trump's government was of, by and for the fossil fuel industry. But make no mistake: Mike Pompeo could be far worse.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!