The Obama administration on Friday officially released details of its Clean Power Plan that sets state-by-state regulations to reduce power plants' carbon emissions by nearly a third from 2005 levels, but nearly half of the states immediately challenged the new rules.
Environmentalists hailed the regulations in the plan, which was first announced in August. The rules give states until 2022 to begin showing reductions, with the aim of cutting the nation's overall emissions from power plants by 32 percent by 2030.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is overseeing the plan, said in an email that it "has the authority to implement a federal plan" if a state fails to submit a program to reduce its carbon emissions, or if it submits an unapproved plan.
On Friday morning, 24 states challenged the new rules by petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. West Virginia is heading the group of states, which also includes Virginia, Texas, Alabama and New Jersey.
“West Virginia is proud to be leading the charge against this Administration’s blatant and unprecedented attack on coal,” that state’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, said in a news release.
The dissenting states argue that the new regulations amount to federal overreach and will result in higher bills and an unreliable electrical grid.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said his state had joined the coalition against the new rules to help “prevent massive increases in electric bills that would hurt hard-working families, the elderly and the poor.”
Environmental protection advocates such as Liz Perera, climate policy director for the Sierra Club, applauded the federal plan. “This is the first rule-making that actually seeks to limit carbon pollution from all power plants,” she said. “I would deem it the most significant action a president has ever taken on climate change.”
Supporters of the plan said the EPA had worked hard to make sure that the goals were achievable for every state.
“The EPA bent over backwards to make sure that this rule is one that can be completed in a way that’s not too abrupt,” said Sean Donahue, an attorney who represents the Environmental Defense Fund. “There are a lot of entities in our society who feel very threatened by the idea that we would be doing anything at all about climate change. But I think most of the country has moved on.”