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Wyoming, 11 Other States Fight EPA Power Plant Rules

Participating in multiple lawsuits, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead showed Friday that he is not about to give up his beef with new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions aimed at coal-fired generation plants.

Mead said his state joined 11 others in filing a lawsuit against EPA, and in another court filing Wyoming joined an effort led by a major coal company.

Mead made it clear that he wants the rules either withdrawn or amended. Wyoming and the other states are asking for the court to step in and halt the implementation of the EPA rules.

The lawsuit challenges an EPA settlement agreement, alleging that it allows the EPA "to over-regulate coal and is unlawful under the Clean Air Act." Wyoming is also actively putting together an analysis on the proposed rule for existing power plants as part of the public comment period, Mead said.

“We will use many different tactics to fight this rule. It is an overreach and is harmful to the economy of the entire country and in particular to Wyoming,” Mead said. “We need affordable energy and a clean environment. We can have both, but this is not how we get there. This rule goes too far."

A spokesperson for the governor noted that Wyoming is part of another lawsuit challenging the EPA’s proposed rule regulating existing power plants. Wyoming and eight other states joined a suit led by Murray Energy, the nation's largest underground coal mining company.

In the first days of his taking office three years ago, Mead directed Wyoming to file three petitions with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, challenging EPA rules to combat greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, alleging that the new rules trample on states' rights (see Daily GPI, Feb. 15, 2011). At the time, Mead stressed that his state is trying to guard its right to control air quality permitting.

In the power plant rules, Mead contends that the federal agency has misinterpreted the language of the Clean Air Act. "It is clear that if the EPA is already regulating coal plants under one section of the Act, it cannot regulate them under another section," he said.

“Shutting down coal-fired power plants hurts the economy. We are aggressively opposing this proposal. I want the rule withdrawn or amended to encourage innovation rather than stifling an industry.”

Wyoming has accounted for 39% of all U.S. coal production so far this year, more than three times the amount of #2 producer West Virginia.

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