Oklahoma Sues EPA, Calling Clean Air Rule Unconstitutional

Oklahoma sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, claiming it exceeded its powers by proposing new rules to reduce pollution at coal-fired power plants.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt sued the EPA in Federal Court, claiming its plan to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions in the next five years is unconstitutional.

Oklahoma claims the agency's timeline for its Clean Power Plan is unrealistic, and that it will need a minimum of eight years to implement the changes.

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"In sum, due to the EPA Power Plan, simply maintaining electric service across the State of Oklahoma requires substantial expenditures of time, effort, and money by the Oklahoma Legislature, OCC [Oklahoma Corporation Commission], ODEQ [Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality], and other state actors, as well as private utilities," the complaint states.

"These expenditures cannot be recouped. If the State does nothing while EPA implements anything like a 35.5-percent reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions from Oklahoma's coal-fired power plants, the lights will go out in many Oklahoma communities, impacting State governmental operations, as well as the health and welfare of citizens. The same is true of the 33 percent 'interim goal' set by EPA and would be true of even a substantially smaller goal, on the order of 15 or 20 percent."

Pruitt claims that the plan would require "the complete restructuring of Oklahoma's power sector even though it has no chance of surviving eventual judicial scrutiny."

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He claims the plan violates at least three statutory bars and two constitutional limitations on federal power. Pruitt said the state can challenge the plan in the D.C. Circuit under Section 307 of the Clean Air Act, but expects it would take at least nine months for a final decision to be issued.

"Even if Oklahoma is able to obtain a stay of the EPA Power Plan in the D.C. Circuit, that is still likely to take months," according to the 19-page complaint. "By that time, Oklahoma will have either implemented or taken irreversible steps towards implementing most, if not all, of the changes described above, meaning that they will be implemented even though the EPA Power Plan is certain to be invalidated. The ordinary petition process under Section 307 is not an adequate means of obtaining the relief required if Oklahoma is to maintain its power sector in anything like the form it exists today and if it is to forgo the massive expenditure of resources required to accommodate the EPA Power Plan."

Federal officials could not be reached for comment after business hours Wednesday.

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Pruitt said in a statement late Wednesday that the plan "forces Oklahoma into fundamentally restructuring the generation, transmission, and regulation of electricity" in a way that threatens the "reliability and affordability" of electricity in the state. He said that decisions on power generation and emissions reductions are best made at the local level.

"The EPA does not possess the authority under the Clean Air Act to accomplish what it proposes in the unlawful Clean Power Plan," Pruitt said. "The EPA is ignoring the authority granted by Congress to states to regulate power plant emissions at their source. The Clean Power Plan is an unlawful attempt to expand federal bureaucrats' authority over states' energy economies in order to shutter coal-fired power plants and eventually other sources of fossil-fuel generated electricity."

Pruitt seeks declaratory judgment that the EPA Power Plan violates the Clean Air Act and "exceeds Congress's Article I authority and violates the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." He seeks an injunction preventing its enforcement.


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