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States sue to block EPA's coal power plant emissions rollback

Posted at 2:01 PM, Aug 13, 2019

A coalition of states and cities will ask a federal court to block the Trump administration's overhaul of emission regulations for coal-fired power plants.

The administration rolled out its Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule earlier this summer, shifting regulatory authority to states while also promoting energy independence and offering hope to the struggling US coal industry.

It replaced one of the Obama administration's hallmark plans to address climate change, the Clean Power Plan. A divided Supreme Court had blocked that rule from taking effect while challenges to its legality played out.

The Trump-led Environmental Protection Agency said the rule would not overstep the legal bounds that Republicans believe Obama's plan crossed. But the EPA itself says the rule could result in 1,400 more premature deaths by 2030 than the Obama-era plan it will replace.

Several states pledged to sue over the Trump administration plan. In the lawsuit , 22 states and seven cities will claim the rule "disregards requirements of the federal Clean Air Act."

"The Clean Air Act requires that limits on air pollutants, such as greenhouse gases, must be based on the emissions reductions achievable through the 'best system of emission reduction,'" the New York attorney general's office said in a statement.

The statement said the Trump administration rule limits states' ability to switch from coal to other sources of power generation, which it called "the most cost-effective, proven, and successful approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions."

EPA spokesman Michael Abboud could not comment on pending litigation, but defended the rule itself.

"In regards to ACE, EPA worked diligently to ensure we produced a solid rule, that we believe will be upheld in the courts, unlike the previous administration's Clean Power Plan," Abboud said.

The states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.