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Wisconsin wades into Clean Power Plan legal fight

Wisconsin has asked to join 13 states supporting coal company Murray Energy Corp.’s court challenge to block U.S. EPA from finalizing a rule to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
The state’s attorney general, Brad Schimel (R), submitted a motion to intervene this week to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Wisconsin wants to throw its backing behind Murray ahead of oral arguments scheduled for April 16.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker (R) told EPA in December that Wisconsin has already made major investments in clean power and should get credit for that work. The likely GOP presidential candidate said in a State of the State speech in January that Wisconsin would soon file suit against the Clean Power Plan (ClimateWire, Jan. 16).

The D.C. Circuit has consolidated the Murray challenge with another one brought by West Virginia and 11 other states. In total, 15 states are part of the efforts to block the regulation.

EPA wants Wisconsin to reduce its power sector carbon emissions rate 34 percent by 2030. Schimel argues the rule would hurt the state’s economy, particularly its manufacturing sector. Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission has predicted the Clean Power Plan could increase electricity rates 29 percent.

Schimel took office in January and said he has just had time to review the rule and consult with state officials. Arkansas also made a motion to intervene on Feb. 12, which the court approved on March 9 (ClimateWire, March 11).

Also on Wednesday, attorneys general in 19 states made another bid to scuttle the rules, writing that EPA should withdraw its proposed standards for new power plants, which were written under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act and technically expected in January.

The new plant rule is a prerequisite for the Clean Power Plan. EPA plans to finalize the new plant regulation this summer, but the states argue that if EPA had submitted the proposal on time, it would have been invalidated by the courts, making the Clean Power Plan unlawful.

The states signing on to the letter include 14 of the 15 involved in legal challenges, as well as Arizona, Georgia, North Dakota, Texas and Utah.