Mississippi has become the latest of a growing number of states to suggest it might not enforce a major EPA regulation to limit carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants — joining at least six other states already threatening to not enforce the rule.
“We do not see how it will be possible to reasonably develop a State Implementation Plan [SIP] given the burdensome requirements of EPA’s proposal in its current form,” Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant wrote in a letter to the EPA last week that was first posted online by Bloomberg BNA.
“The flaws inherent in EPA’s proposal make the development of responsible SIPs unworkable for states, including Mississippi,” Bryant added. “One of my most important duties as governor is to secure reliable access to affordable electricity for Mississippians. I am deeply concerned that the current form of EPA’s proposal could prevent me from fulfilling this duty.”
Bryant’s letter to the EPA reflects an increasing sentiment among Republican governors who worry the agency’s power plant rule will harm grid reliability and increase energy prices. If Mississippi opts not to enforce the EPA’s carbon rule, it could be subject to federal intervention.
Governors from West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Texas and Louisiana have suggested they may not enforce EPA’s rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Oklahoma has officially decided it will not enforce EPA’s rule.
“President Obama and the EPA are fighting a politically charged war against utility consumers across the country,” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said on her issuing of an executive order to block the implementation of the EPA’s power plant rule. “While the environmental benefits of these regulations will be minimal, the economic devastation of these overreaching and unrealistic regulations will be very real.”
For months, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has been encouraging states to not enforce the EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” until the matter has been sorted out in the courts. Implementing the Clean Power Plan prior to this could leave states heavily invested in a rule that could be struck down as unlawful.
“Don’t be complicit in the administration’s attack on the middle class,” McConnell wrote in March. “Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you into federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism.”
The courts have already rejected the first challenge to the Clean Power Plan by a group of states and a coal company because the agency had not finalized the rule yet. The EPA is expected to finalize the Clean Power Plan next month, and officials expect legal challenges to be filed once the rule is promulgated.
The EPA has warned that states that don’t submit implementation plans would be put under a federal one — thus putting their state’s environmental agenda under federal control.
“We hope that every state will feel it’s in their best interest to develop their own plan,” EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe told reporters in a January press call. “We do have an obligation under the Clean Air Act to have a federal plan available should there be states that don’t submit plans.”
While the EPA and environmentalists have warned that states could lose out if they don’t implement their state plans, others have pointed out the EPA doesn’t actually have the authority to enforce some aspects of the Clean Power Plan.
Last year, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe questioned EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy about how the EPA would be able to enforce aspects of the Clean Power Plan. Inhofe’s conclusion was that the EPA did lack the authority to force states to increase natural gas and green energy use.
“Sorry to interrupt, but you are proposing a rule that you do not have the authority … to enforce today,” Inhofe told McCarthy during a hearing last year.
“No, I believe we have clear authority to do the rule as we’ve proposed it,” McCarthy responded. “I don’t think we’re expanding our authority with this rule, sir, no.”
“Well, it appears to me you are,” Inhofe said.
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