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Momentum Builds Against EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Kristi E. Swartz, E&E Energiewire

Momentum is building across the Southeast toward a “just say no” campaign for U.S. EPA’s final Clean Power Plan rule, expected to be released within weeks.

A panel of lawmakers at the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) yesterday passed a resolution urging state attorneys general to sue EPA over the rule that targets existing power plants. Broadly, the rule calls for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, but targets for states vary.

States will have to write their own plans on how they are going to reduce their power sector CO2 emissions. If they do not, EPA will write the plan for them.

Del. Rupert “Rupie” Phillips, a Democrat from West Virginia, wrote the resolution, which passed SLC’s energy and environment committee. His original measure urged states to not submit plans with EPA, but a compromise was struck to direct attorneys general to take legal action first.

“It’s time to draw a line in the sand,” Phillips said. “The EPA is pushing us around like they are a bunch of punks. I just want the states to stand together and say ‘no.'”

A chief concern about refusing to file a plan is having EPA write one instead, said Arkansas State Rep. John Baine, a Democrat.

“As a state, I’d much rather have a plan that I got to pick,” Baine said.

The SLC is the largest of four regional legislative groups that operate under the Council of State Governments. Its 15 member states stretch from West Virginia to Texas and includes Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma. Its policy and positions committee is expected to vote on the Clean Power Plan resolution today.

Yesterday’s discussion, part of SLC’s four-day annual meeting, was the second debate over how states should respond to the Clean Power Plan. Presenters to the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB) on Saturday encouraged members to call the White House and share the group’s concern over the pending rule.

Presenters said they were encouraged by the number of states planning to sue once the rule is released.

“We ask that you look to your states as an action of this group, to your attorneys general, to your governors to see if we can get as many states as possible to file litigation, joint litigation to the EPA on this,” said Randy Eminger, vice president of the South region for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). “The more we have, the better.”

Eminger said ACCCE tallied 18 states ready to sue as soon as possible. In the Southeast, that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia, according to a map posted at SSEB’s legislator briefing.

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