Okla. governor vetoes bill aimed at EPA carbon plan after signing executive order 

Source: Edward Klump, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) vetoed a bill Friday that envisioned a review by the state’s attorney general of any state implementation response to U.S. EPA’s plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

Fallin issued the veto the same week she signed an executive order that seeks to prevent Oklahoma from submitting an implementation plan related to a final EPA carbon rule (EnergyWire, April 30).

In a news release, the governor said the vetoed legislation — S.B. 676 — had been described as an attempt to fight EPA. In fact, Fallin said, it inadvertently had the opposite effect by requiring that Oklahoma develop a state plan. The attorney general could have rejected the plan after reviewing its legality.

Fallin said her executive order was the “clearest path” to fighting EPA carbon mandates, saying the legislative approach backed by some others in state government could come with great expense for the state.

“I stand with our Legislature and our attorney general in opposing the EPA’s unconstitutional and ill-conceived power-grab,” Fallin said in a news release. “However, we do not need to spend a lot of time and money to develop a plan that we have no intention of implementing and every intention of rejecting, which is what this bill requires.”

In a veto message, Fallin said developing a state plan would involve “dozens of state and private entities and thousands of hours of study and negotiations. It is a massive undertaking and requires the commitment of untold amounts of financial and time resources.” She called it unnecessary because she, the Legislature and the attorney general agree that Oklahoma shouldn’t implement a state plan.

EPA has said it’s preparing to deliver a final version of its proposed Clean Power Plan this summer. The plan seeks to cut carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. Targets vary by state, and some interim goals could start in 2020.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican, had applauded the Senate last week for passing S.B. 676 as a way to help fight EPA. In an emailed statement, his office had indicated the bill would bolster the more temporary nature of an executive order.

The Oklahoman newspaper reported that Pruitt, in a statement, expressed disappointment with the veto and said the bill wouldn’t have created a large expense for the state but would have made sure Oklahoma didn’t have to turn in a plan that conflicted with state or federal laws.

State Sen. Greg Treat, the Republican author of the bill, described the executive order as cover for a veto and was considering Friday afternoon whether to seek an override, The Oklahoman reported.

Fallin said in a news release last week that her executive order was intended to show that “Oklahoma has no intention of implementing new regulations that run directly contrary to the interests of our citizens and our state.”

Her order said developing a plan could happen only if it’s found to be necessary by the state’s attorney general or a “court of competent jurisdiction.” Fallin said there would need to be written authority of the governor.

If EPA’s plan is finalized, Fallin said, the attorney general is to review it and publish a white paper on the legal efficacy of the regulation. She also requested the attorney general take necessary action in enforcing the rights of Oklahoma in relation to federal action that may affect the “freedoms of its people.”