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The Final Word by Chuck Swann
It has been the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to let the 50 states devise and present to EPA their plans on how they would meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan. But over half of the states decided that, first, they would file court challenges to the whole ball of wax.

As of this writing, 27 states have filed legal challenges to the CPP. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

On the other hand, 15 states and the District of Columbia have said they are backing the EPA and will begin working to comply with the new rules. Governors in Colorado, Michigan and New Mexico have said they will work to comply with the new EPA rules, even as their attorneys general joined in the lawsuit.

The flurry of lawsuits largely reflects the economic interests of the states that have filed the legal challenges. In West Virginia, where coal mining is a major economic driver, challenger Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said, "I have a responsibility to protect the lives of millions of working families, the elderly and the poor from such illegal and unconscionable federal government actions.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined the parade of nay-sayers. She said, "In a state like Arkansas where over half of the electricity is responsibly generated from coal-fired power plants, the impact will be felt in the pocketbooks of Arkansas utility ratepayers. These increased costs will have a direct impact on the state's ability to grow good-paying jobs with fair, reasonable electric rates."

The EPA's response has been one of confidence that the challenges will not prevail in court. Said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, "We are confident that we will again prevail against these challenges and will be able to work with states to successfully implement these first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution." Among environmentalists supporting the CPP is the Sierra Club. Its executive director, Michael Brune, said, "We expect polluters and their allies to throw everything they've got at the Clean Power Plan, and we expect them to fail. The Clean Power Plan is based on a law passed by Congress, upheld by the Supreme Court and demanded by the American people."

Some of the challenging states, meanwhile, are hedging their bets. Joining in litigating against the CPP does not mean that states are not actively considering how to achieve the required emissions cuts if their lawsuits fail. "I think many of them are proceeding ahead even if it's only the umbrella of Plan B. They all know the realities," said Ken Colburn, of the Regulatory Assistance Project, which advises state regulators on the CPP.

Stay tuned.

Chuck Swann is the senior editor of Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at chuck.swann@taii.com.

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