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Legal Challenges by Power Generators Mounting Against Clean Power Plan

A federal appeals court is considering whether to add six separate lawsuits, most of them by power generators, to a massive claim filed by 26 states against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP).

According to filings with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Minnesota Power [No. 15-1474], Denbury Onshore LLC [15-1475] and Prairie State Generating Co. LLC [15-1472] filed lawsuits against the EPA on Monday. The Energy-Intensive Manufacturers' Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Regulation [15-1477], the Local Government Coalition for Renewable Energy [15-1483] and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) [15-1484] filed court challenges on Tuesday.

The NRECA lawsuit included Sunflower Electric Power Corp., the Basin Electric Power Cooperative, East Kentucky Power Cooperative Inc., the Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative Inc., Minnkota Power Cooperative Inc. and Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association Inc. as litigants.

The appeals court is to consider consolidating the six lawsuits with one of the major cases [15-1363] challenging the proposed law, State of West Virginia et al v. EPA et al, which opened in October (see Daily GPIAug. 21). Twenty-five states and environmental regulators from a 26th state, North Carolina, have sued the EPA over the CPP, arguing that it is an overreach by the federal regulatory agency. North Dakota and other petitioners have filed a separate challenge [15-1382].

Last August, attorneys general for 15 states filed an emergency petition in federal court, urging it to intervene and postpone the CPP's deadlines (see Daily GPI, Aug. 14). They argued that the EPA exceeded its authority and gave states insufficient time -- 13 months -- to design and submit plans on how they would replace coal-fired generation with cleaner alternatives, including natural gas.

The Obama administration unveiled the final version of the CPP earlier this month (see Daily GPIAug. 3). The plan embraces renewables and some natural gas, and calls for states to reduce emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. States would be required to submit a final plan to reduce their emissions by September 2016, but they may request a two-year extension.

Obama earlier this month vetoed a pair of Congressional resolutions designed to derail the CPP (see Daily GPIDec. 22). That followed a move by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy last week to certify that the agency did not break any laws by using social media to promote the CPP (see Daily GPI, Dec. 21).

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