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October 26, 2015

25 U.S. States: EPA Overstepped Authority In Clean Power Plan

Last Friday, 25 U.S. states filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new regulation governing emissions from existing power plants. (The EPA published the final rule for existing power plants on Friday, which allowed legal challenges to move forward.) 

The attorneys general of the 25 states argued the EPA does not have the authority under the Clean Air Act to enforce the rule and that the regulation would have a devastating effect on their individual economies. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey said, “The Clean Power Plan is one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in this nation's history … I have a responsibility to protect the lives of millions of working families, the elderly and the poor, from such illegal and unconscionable federal government actions.” 

Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and Wisconsin joined West Virginia in its opposition to the rule. Officials from 15 other states and the District of Columbia have indicated they support the EPA’s plan and will start to implement it. 

MSCI supports an industry-led effort by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business to legally challenge the rule

Congress is also working to halt the plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he will introduce resolutions to stop the EPA plan from moving forward. In the House, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) has said he will introduce similar legislation. 

Four senators have also introduced legislation that would give regulatory bodies more guidance on congressional intent moving forward, a move that could potentially limit future overreach by executive branch agencies. Last week, Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced a bill that would allow Congress to pass resolutions to clarify the meaning of the legislation it passes and to explain the authority that legislation gives to federal agencies. According to The Hill, “[F]ederal agencies wouldn’t be able to issue a rule or regulation that contradicts [the] guidance from lawmakers and would need to change any current conflicting regulations.”