EPA finalizes carbon dioxide rules for power plants triggering legal battles and Congressional review

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its rules for reducing carbon dioxide from new and existing power plants Friday. Though the final rules were released by the EPA previously, the publishing of the rules starts a 60-day clock for parties to initiate lawsuits against the rules.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined by 15 other national business groups, 25 states including Kentucky, and various industry groups have filed lawsuits against the EPA. The petitioners are challenging the legality of the Clean Power Plan and asking the court to postpone implementation until the rule has been thoroughly reviewed. It is expected that the rulemaking will eventually be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court but may take years to be finally resolved. The U.S. Chamber and others believe the EPA is on shaky legal ground and lacks proper authority to fully implement the rules. They are concerned that if the court doesn’t postpone implementation costly steps will be taken to comply with the rules that may ultimately be found unlawful.

The Kentucky Chamber Board of Directors voted Friday to adopt the 2016 legislative agenda which included a new statement of support for postponement of regulations that are being challenged, including these newly finalized rules, until the courts complete their review of the case and any appeals. The statement further explains that, “Costly regulations such as those impacting electric utilities require significant investment that cannot be refunded to the ratepayers when a rule is vacated.”

Members of the Kentucky Congressional delegation are taking aim at the rules as well. Senator McConnell has said he and Sen. Joe Manchin (WVa.) will introduce a resolution that attacks the rule for new power plants. Senator McConnell will support a similar resolution directed at the rule for existing power plants. Rep. Ed. Whitfield has also indicated he will file resolutions next week to kill both rules.

The Kentucky Chamber is opposed to these rules because they will reduce demand for Kentucky coal and increase electricity cost—outcomes that are unacceptable as we work toward growing a healthy, diverse economy. The Kentucky Chamber will continue to work with our partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and our many members to fight the rules to protect Kentucky businesses.

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