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Republican AGs Sue to Stop EPA Carbon Capture Regulations

Republican AGs Sue to Stop EPA Carbon Capture Regulations

May 9, 2024

Republican AGs Sue to Stop EPA Carbon Capture Regulations

A coalition of 25 Republican state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an attempt to block new carbon capture regulations for fossil-fuel-fired power plants. The EPA's final rule, announced on April 25, requires new natural gas turbines and existing coal-fired power plants to implement hydrogen co-firing and carbon capture and sequestration/storage (CCS) technologies.

The legal challenge, spearheaded by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, was submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Thursday. The multi-state petition seeks a ruling to declare the EPA's new regulations unlawful. The group of attorneys general argues that the EPA is overstepping its authority and that such regulatory measures should be the purview of elected representatives in Congress.

In a press statement, Mr. Morrisey referenced a previous Supreme Court decision, West Virginia v. EPA (2022), where the court ruled 6-3 that the agency's authority to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants is limited by the "major questions doctrine." Mr. Morrisey criticized the EPA's latest move, stating, "The EPA continues to not fully understand the direction from the Supreme Court—unelected bureaucrats continue their pursuit to legislate rather than rely on elected members of Congress for guidance."

The regulations are seen as part of President Joe Biden's broader environmental agenda, which has included various measures such as a hold on most new liquified natural gas (LNG) exports and the introduction of stricter soot pollution limits.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, while announcing the new power plant rules last year, denied intentions to shut down the coal sector but did acknowledge potential coal retirements as a result of the new standards.

The lawsuit comes amid a series of environmental actions by the Biden administration that have met resistance. In addition to the EPA's carbon emission and soot pollution rules, the U.S. Department of Interior recently increased fees for leasing federal land for fossil fuel extraction and moved to block new oil and gas drilling leases, affecting 13.3 million acres of land in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A).

The current legal challenge by the Republican attorneys general represents a significant pushback against the Biden administration's environmental policies. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for the regulation of carbon emissions in the United States and the broader battle between the federal environmental agenda and states' rights.

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