Officials from 24 states opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) have written a letter to the incoming Trump administration, urging it to scuttle the plan shortly after the president-elect takes office next month.
The letter, dated Wednesday and written on letterhead from West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, was addressed to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It was also signed by 21 other state attorneys general and two representatives of state environmental protection departments.
"The incoming administration and Congress now have the opportunity to withdraw this unlawful rule and prevent adoption of a similar rule in the future," Morrisey and the others wrote.
Last February, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay that temporarily blocked implementation of the CPP until all legal challenges have been resolved. West Virginia and at least 27 other states have sued the EPA over the CPP, arguing that it amounts to regulatory overreach by the agency. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in the case State of West Virginia et al v. EPA et allast September [15-1363].
The state officials say the Trump administration can withdraw the CPP by following a four-part plan, starting with an executive order rescinding President Obama's directive to the EPA to promulgate the rule, and instructing the EPA to take no further action to either enforce or implement it.
"An executive order on day one is critical," Morrisey said. "The order should explain that it is the [Trump] administration's view that the rule is unlawful and that EPA lacks authority to enforce it. The executive order is necessary to send an immediate and strong message to states and regulated entities that the administration will not enforce the rule."
The Trump administration should then take formal administrative action to withdraw the CPP and any related actions in court before reviewing any additional existing litigation, the state officials said. Embarking on long-term legislative action would be the final step.
"We believe it is important to provide a longer-term legislative response to the rule to ensure that similar or more extreme unlawful steps are not attempted by a future EPA. Any such legislation should recognize the rights of states to develop their own energy strategies, so that energy can be generated in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner."
The Obama administration unveiled the final version of the CPP in August 2015. The plan, which embraces renewables, solar and wind power, but not so much natural gas, calls for states to reduce emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Earlier this month, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. Pruitt was not a signatory of Morrisey's letter.