In June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule that would limit carbon emissions from power plants. This will have serious ramifications for energy-producing states, particularly those that generate electricity from coal power plants. Even more troublesome, the rule would restrict local decision-making and control of state energy production.
A number of states have responded with vigorous opposition as more information about the proposed rule unfolds. This week, 13 states sent a letter to the EPA, arguing that the proposed rule did not provide the necessary data for approval. In a statement this week about the EPA rule, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morissey said, “This is another blatant example of this agency’s disregard for the rule of law.”
Many of these states also filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the EPA for unlawful overreach by a regulatory agency. According to Indiana Governor Mike Pence, whose state signed onto the suit, “Congress has already rejected legislation that would put limits on carbon dioxide emissions, and a law of this significance should be passed by the legislative branch.”
State legislators, policy leaders, and activists are also responding with the same level of concern and frustration. Last Friday, Karen Lugo, director of Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Tenth Amendment Action, wrote an op-ed warning of the dangers of such broad regulatory action and the threat to state control over energy production. She commented, “Congress must be held accountable to curb the EPA’s regulatory excesses or the states will pay a price steep price in lost sovereignty and respect for retained state police powers.”
Arizona State Senator Steve Pierce also penned an op-ed earlier this week arguing that the EPA’s ruling would be a direct assault to local control: “We believe Arizona is best positioned to make decisions about what Arizona needs, and it is important that we lead, not be led, in crafting energy policy that stands to have such an enormous impact on our residents and businesses.”
This is not the first time that the EPA has issued troublesome federal regulations; however, this rule is perhaps the most serious threat to state sovereignty to date.