The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan has been the subject of serious legal critiques, and last week’s hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety was no exception. During the hearing, Attorneys General from West Virginia and Oklahoma made their case for why they joined with 13 other states to file a legal challenge to block the plan based on the egregious overreach of federal power it represents.
Tuesday’s hearing, “Legal Implications of the Clean Power Plan,” focused on the serious legal questions surrounding EPA’s plan, which in the words of Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, threatens the integrity of our system of ‘cooperative federalism.’ Attorneys General Patrick Morrisey (WV) and Scott Pruitt (OK) declared the plan both violates the Constitution and will reap devastating impacts on communities across the U.S. Former EPA General Counsel Roger Martella also testified to the legal concerns that arise from the new powers EPA is attempting to exert through the rule.
From the hearing:
West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito: “We know from nearly five decades of experience that the Clean Air Act works best when implemented in the spirit of cooperative federalism. When the federal government works with the states as partners, we can, and have, improved our air quality and protected our economy and our electricity grid at the same time.
However, the Clean Power Plan does none of this in my opinion. Instead, we have EPA dictating to the states and effectively micromanaging intrastate electricity policy decisions to a degree even the agency admits is unprecedented. This raises a broad array of legal issues and is, quite simply, bad policy.”
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: “It is my duty as the chief legal officer for the State of West Virginia to fight against this unlawful power grab, which is harming our citizens.”
Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt: “No state should comply with the Clean Power Plan if it means surrendering decision-making authority to the EPA, a power that has not been granted to the agency. States should be left to make decisions on the fuel diversity that best meets their power generation needs.”
“The EPA does not possess the authority under the Clean Air Act to do what it is seeking to accomplish in the so-called Clean Power Plan.”
Mr. Roger Martella, Jr. Partner, Sidley Austin LLP: “In essence, the proposed [CPP] would be the nation’s broadest and most extensive regulation of energy itself and establish EPA’s authority effectively to reorganize the entire energy generation sector.”
Legal experts agree that EPA’s proposal is an illegal usurpation of state powers for a number of reasons, three of which Mr. Morrisey outlined during the hearing:
1. The Clean Air Act’s Section 112 exclusion prohibits the Section 111(d) rule.
2. The Section 111(d) rule is illegal because it seeks to transform the states’ energy economies, rather than just regulating particular sources.
3. The Section 111(d) rule illegally commandeers the states.
We applaud Attorneys General Morrisey and Pruitt for standing up for their home states and fighting the Obama Administration’s hostile overreach. EPA’s plan not only threatens the future of American energy production – it violates federal laws passed by Congress.