Montana, Crow Nation Question EPA’s Proposed Carbon Regulations

Economic impact, no consultation with tribe, EPA’s lack of legal authority cited

In joint comments filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and the Crow Nation raise serious concerns about the proposed carbon regulations and their impact on Montana jobs. The EPA is proposing new regulations under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act that would force the states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. Montana operates coal-fired power plants and supplies coal to other states around the country.

In the joint comments filed on Monday, Crow Chairman Darrin Old Coyote and Montana Attorney General Fox told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that the proposed regulations would cripple the largest source of jobs and non-federal financial resources on the reservation, which already faces a staggering 47% unemployment rate.

“Coal mining on our reservation provides family-wage jobs and benefits for our members,” said Chairman Old Coyote. “The Crow Nation can, and should, be self-sufficient, and developing our resources is a significant step in that direction. Since the proposed regulations will penalize our customers in the Midwest and shrink our market, they could have severe impacts on our livelihood,” said Chairman Old Coyote.

Fox and Old Coyote also pointed out that the Obama Administration failed to abide by its own executive order requiring consultation with tribes before any agency rulemaking that might impact them. “The longstanding trust responsibility between the federal government and the Crow Nation may be violated unless an exception and/or mitigation of the rule is provided to us,” they told the EPA. Read the joint Montana-Crow letter here.

Fox also joined 16 other state attorneys general in filing separate comments on the EPA regulations arguing that they are illegal and exceed federal authority granted in the Clean Air Act.

“The EPA is attempting to use the Clean Air Act to bypass Congress and impose a federal energy policy on the states,” Attorney General Fox said. “Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled and an EPA legal memo concedes that the agency doesn’t have the authority to regulate existing power plant emissions under rule 111(d).” Read the comments from 17 state attorneys general here.

Congressman and Senator-elect Steve Daines also participated in today’s event announcing the comments. “The EPA’s latest over-reaching regulations are a direct attack on thousands of Montana jobs and a roadblock to the Crow Tribe’s ability to develop their resources and promote economic opportunity for the Crow people,” Daines said. “I strongly support the Crow Tribe and Attorney General Fox’s efforts to push back against this abuse of power and will remain a strong partner in the fight to stop the Obama administration’s war on coal.”

Congressman-elect Ryan Zinke, who was meeting with other Montana Indian nations today, also called on the EPA to listen to Montana voices. “Now is the time to work together to move Montana forward. As a member of the Committee on Natural Resources, I will fight every day on behalf of Montanans and Montana jobs to rein in the EPA and overreaching bureaucracy. Montana is full of opportunities — new developments in the Bakken, as well as the clean coal and timber industries — and if we can take the EPA back to its original intent, Montana can continue to grow our economy in a responsible way so that future generations can thrive in Montana and help move our state forward.”

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