9 governors ask Obama to nix carbon, water rules

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Nine Republican governors asked President Obama today to scrap U.S. EPA’s climate rule proposal for existing power plants, blasting it as an unprecedented infringement on state authority.

The governors, whose states are major producers and consumers of fossil fuels, told Obama in a letter the June 2 proposal from U.S. EPA would “largely dictate to states the type of electricity generation they could build and operate.”

“In addition, you seek to essentially ban coal from the U.S. energy mix,” they said.

The letter was signed by the governors of Alaska, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

While they say their state environmental regulators are still working to understand the proposal, they say the “best available data” show it will cost millions of jobs and billions of dollars. The figure tracks with a U.S. Chamber of Commerce economic report prepared ahead of the rule’s release that assessed the possible costs of regulations. The chamber’s assumptions have been widely disputed.

EPA has said the proposal would make up to 19 percent of today’s coal fleet uneconomical but insists it respects states’ Clean Air Act authority to determine how the rule would be implemented and provides them with great flexibility.

The governors also took aim at EPA’s April proposal that would bring more bodies of water under Clean Water Act regulation. By “redefining” what waters can be regulated, they wrote, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are guilty of another sweeping act of overreach.

“If successful, the federal government would become the arbiters of how our citizens, state highway departments, county flood control and storm water agencies, utilities, irrigation districts and farmers use their water and their land,” the governors wrote.

This is not the first time states have banded together in an attempt to head off EPA greenhouse gas rules they suspected would be particularly burdensome to them. North Dakota hosted an April meeting of 18 like-minded states in Bismarck, in which states heard from high-level EPA officials about the upcoming proposal and strategized about ways to safeguard their interests (Greenwire, April 17).

The letter also comes as members of Congress continue to introduce bills aimed at curbing the greenhouse gas rules.

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who is challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D) this year, introduced legislation late last week aimed at making the EPA carbon regulations contingent on the Labor Department and others certifying that the rules would not have an economic cost.