Attorneys general demand EPA cease all work related to rule

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A pair of Republican state attorneys general are calling on U.S. EPA to halt all work related to the Clean Power Plan while the rule remains frozen by the Supreme Court.

In February, the high court halted EPA’s program for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants pending the resolution of complex litigation.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) penned a letter to EPA, accusing the agency of not according the court’s decision “proper respect.”

Morrisey and Paxton asked EPA to stop helping states that want to proceed with the Clean Power Plan during the stay, as well as to stop two related rulemakings. They are among a group of attorneys general challenging the rule in court.

“At a minimum, we urge you to consider that you are spending scarce resources on a rule that the Supreme Court has indicated raises serious legal questions,” says the May 16 letter released today by Morrisey’s office.

Republicans in Congress have also questioned EPA’s activity during the stay (E&ENews PM, May 13).

Shortly after the Supreme Court made its move, Morrisey and Paxton called on states to put their pencils down and stop all planning activities related to the Clean Power Plan.

Many states, however, have continued their planning activities. Last month, 14 state environmental officials asked EPA for additional information and assistance on planning for the program.

EPA is also moving forward on the Clean Energy Incentive Program, which would reward states for taking early steps to cut carbon, and model rules to guide states in trading emissions credits (ClimateWire, May 6).

“Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants,” EPA said in a recent statement, “and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the CEIP.”

EPA sent the proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review last month. The agency called that a “routine step” and consistent with the Supreme Court stay.

But Morrisey and Paxton argue that because the Clean Energy Incentive Program and model trading rules are linked to the Clean Power Plan, work on them “calls into question” EPA’s commitment to the Supreme Court order.

They also said that if EPA begins any public comment periods on the related rules, it would improperly compel states to take action related to the Clean Power Plan.

“The entire point of the Supreme Court’s extraordinary action in putting a stop to the Power Plan was to preserve the status quo pending the outcome of the litigation,” Morrisey and Paxton wrote. “EPA should respect that action by leaving things the way they are until the courts have had their say.”