Oklahoma, North Dakota and Missouri have now joined the 24 states that have filed a lawsuit following West Virginia’s lead on challenging the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan aims to cut U.S. power plant emissions 32% by 2030 by forcing states to write plans to reduce emissions from the energy sector. The rule will essentially force states to shut down coal-fired power plants and use more natural gas and green energy to get electricity.
The states argument is that the Clean Power Plan is essentially a federal takeover of state resource and energy policy because it forces a shift away from coal regardless of a state’s own plans. It is also being challenged because it regulates power plants already covered by another section of the Clean Air Act.
On a call with reporters, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey repeated many of the long-held arguments against the rule: that it will hurt his state’s coal mining industry, raise power rates for consumers and risk electricity reliability.
The Dow Jones U.S. Coal Index, has lost a stunning 95% of its value since July 2011 and a number of coal companies have filed for bankruptcy, including Alpha Natural Resources (ANRZQ), Walter Energy (WLTGQ), Patriot Coal and James River Coal (JRCCQ).
The EPA argues the rule will not completely eliminate coal use, and that coal will still be an important part of America’s power supply for years to come. But states that rely on coal for the vast majority of their electricity argue the rule will massively increase energy prices and require billions of dollars in new grid investments.
The states that have joined West Virginia’s lawsuit include AL, AR, AZ, CO, FL, GA, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, OH, OK, SC, SD, TX, UT, WI, and WY.