The bitterly contested fight in Washington over global warming and pollution is also taking hold at the state level. The Environmental Protection Agency, which is threatening to regulate carbon emissions if Congress won’t, is facing legal heat from states that say new regulations will kill jobs at the worst possible time.
Texas, Alabama and Virginia, all led by Republican governors, have filed petitions since December, when the EPA ruled that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide endanger human health, clearing the path for the agency to issue mandatory regulations to reduce them.
As the EPA grapples with the lawsuits, Congress is trying to block the agency from acting without congressional approval. Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced legislation Thursday calling for a two-year suspension of potential EPA regulations.
Rockefeller and other lawmakers from coal mining states oppose the EPA’s plan to target power plants and other industrial facilities.
The EPA already agreed, after Rockefeller complained last month, to delay phasing in its regulations until the end of the year. But that hasn’t satisfied global warming skeptics.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said last month the finding could “create a staggering burden” on the state.
“Put into effect, the finding would a place a crushing burden on jobs and the economy of Virginia,” he said. “And while some parts of Virginia would be hit harder than others, every Virginian would take an economic beating if this goes forward.”
He added: “While we’re open to seeing where honest, unbiased science leads us in the climate policy arena, we’re not prepared to stand by while EPA proceeds to implement jobs-destroying regulations based on unverifiable and unrepeatable so-called science.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the finding would usher in a new era that would destroy his state’s ability to provide energy to the rest of the world. Stacked with oil refining and other industries, Texas is the top carbon dioxide emitter in the country and would be heavily affected if mandatory emissions reductions go into effect.
“They’re using sweeping mandates, Draconian punishments to force a square peg of their vision into the round hole of reality,” he said. “In the process, they’re preparing to undo decades of progress while painting hardworking entrepreneurs as selfish and destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.”
The EPA has responded to the lawsuits with a statement saying the “evidence of and threats posed by a changing climate are right before our eyes.”