Attorney General Knudsen Opposes EPA’s Proposed New Anti-Power Plant Rule in Comment Letter

Attorney General Knudsen Opposes EPA’s Proposed New Anti-Power Plant Rule in Comment Letter

HELENA – Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing formal comments in opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed new rule on existing coal-, natural gas- and oil-fired power plants. The EPA’s proposal attempts to regulate the plants under the Clean Air Act by imposing more stringent emissions standards and ignores last year’s rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court in West Virginia, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al.

As the letter states, the Section 111 rule change violates the Supreme Court’s decision on West Virginia v. EPA because Congress still hasn’t given EPA clear statutory authorization to remake the electricity grids. The letter also highlights how the environmental policies the EPA is proposing under this rule are inefficient, expensive, and unrealistic.  If enacted, this rule also threatens the long-term stability and reliability of the country’s electrical grid.

“The Proposed Rule at least abandons the more direct “generation-shifting” mandate that the Court rejected in West Virginia—but it still doubles down on the earlier rule’s goals by setting unrealistic standards,” the attorneys general state. “If finalized, EPA’s impossible proposal will leave coal- and natural-gas plants with no other option but to close. Yet EPA has no more authority to mandate this result indirectly than it did when it tried to do so directly. Thus, the Proposed Rule exceeds EPA’s authority by forcing the kinds of major shifts that West Virginia already said can’t be imposed by way of Section 111(d).”

West Virginia v. EPA was brought by Attorney General Knudsen and other state attorneys general in June of 2022. The Court held 6-to-3 that the EPA’s plan to pick and choose favored energy sources, command generators and manufacturers to cross-subsidize competitors, or effectively shut down certain plant operations altogether was overly broad and an illegal overreach of power.

“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

Montana’s economy relies heavily on coal-, natural gas-, and oil-fired power plants. The 65 power plants spread across 29 counties provide power to much of the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal-fired power plants provided the largest share of Montana’s electricity generation in 2022, accounting for 42 percent of in-state generation. This EPA-proposed new rule will force those plants to close. Additionally, if the rule is enacted, thousands of Montanans will lose their jobs.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia also joined the West Virginia-led letter.

Read a copy of the letter here.

Attorney General Knudsen continues to fight the Biden administration’s radical EPA. In February, he and other attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the EPA, asking a federal court to vacate the newly published final rule redefining Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and declare it unlawful. In April, the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s EPA from implementing its final rule redefining WOTUS.


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