States plan to sue EPA over climate change rules

Power Plant
CC BY 2.0 Rennett Stowe

A number of states and several business groups are preparing to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the rules to cut carbon emissions, a central part of the Obama administration’s plan to fight climate change.

The final rules were announced back in August, but are set to be officially put into law today, when they are published in the Federal Register. This finial step is expected to trigger a slew of lawsuits, which The New York Times reports are likely to make it to the Supreme Court.

As many as 15 states, including West Virginia and Georgia, may bring legal opposition to the rules in court. Other states may participate in the lawsuits, but Climate Progress reports that some states may be counter-suing in support of the rules. Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Defense Fund have also said they plan to intervene in the case against the EPA.

Many of the states expected to sue are major coal producers. Opponents of the rules say that the EPA is overstepping its jurisdiction, and are also expected to ask for a delay in implementing the rules until the court cases are settled.

The EPA rules, which are under the 1970 Clear Air Act, require states to cut their carbon emissions from power plants, but allow each state to create a plan to reach targets set by the federal government. States have a number of ways to reach these goals, including closing coal plants, upping renewable power like wind and solar, or implementing cap-and-trade plans. If states fail or refuse to create a plan, the EPA will give them one. Emissions targets vary from state to state.

Despite the court challenges, most states have already begun making plans to comply with the EPA carbon rules. Back in June, Inside Climate News reported that 49 had already begun preparing plans to meet emissions targets.

Obama is using the carbon rules as leverage to push for an international agreement to fight climate change at upcoming U.N. negotiations in Paris. Hopefully these negotiations will lead to an agreement from all participating nations to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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