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Good News! ‘EPA critics throw down gauntlet in legal fight’ (E&E Greenwire on the fight ahead)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- December 22, 2015

A rare bit of reassuring news came my way from the Washington, D.C. news front regarding climate/energy policy yesterday. It came from the title of an article in Greenwire by Robin Bravender, “EPA critics throw down gauntlet in legal fight.”

Hurray. A real fight. Principal over pragmatism.

Not that the author is very sympathetic to the cause of free-market energy and carbon dioxide fertilization from non-priced CO2, but just straight reporting of what is likely to be exposed as administrative overreach.

The article (subscription required) begins:

The many foes of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan are preparing to attack the Obama administration on a host of legal fronts as the court battle over the embattled rule gets underway. States, industries and other groups challenging the rule to clamp down on power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions laid out their legal strategies in documents sent to a federal appeals court last week.

EPA illegally issued duplicative rules for coal-fired power plants; the rule infringes on states’ rights; the agency intrudes on federal energy regulators’ turf; and EPA doesn’t have the authority to force states to transform their energy systems to favor certain sources of electricity.

The article then gets into the technical language of the authorizing statutes.

Then comes another line of attack, “including questioning EPA’s authority to regulate ‘beyond the fence line’ of power plants.” She explains:

Electric utility groups including the Utility Air Regulatory Group and the American Public Power Association plan to attack EPA’s authority to “require the curtailment or closure of affected facilities and replacement of their generation by EPA-preferred sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric power, rather than relying on feasible improvements in emissions performance of existing fossil fuel-fired” utilities, according to the list of issues they submitted.

The National Mining Association will question whether EPA “has the authority to force states to transform their energy economies to favor only certain sources of electricity, under the guise of regulating power plants.”

Several petitioners, including Murray Energy Corp., plan to argue that EPA’s rule intrudes on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority to regulate the interstate electricity market.

State-specific objections are then summarized, followed by this very interesting development, first reported by the Wall Street Journal in its weekend edition:

The conservative group Energy & Environment Legal Institute plans to question whether EPA allowed personnel “with conflicts of interest to draft the rule and failed to recuse decision-makers with ‘unalterably closed minds’ from reaching the determination to implement the final rule.”

The year 2016 will see the fight accelerate to preserve the use of coal as a fossil-fuel mainstay in the U.S. electricity market. Next year’s presidential debate will also see the clash between dense energy [natural gas, coal, and oil] versus dilute energy [wind and solar].

Expect Republicans such as Ted Cruz to adopt the Alex Epstein position of the moral superiority of plentiful, affordable, reliable energy over politically correct, energy poor energies. Expect Cruz to hit hard on climate alarmism, as he already has (here and here).

That’s a good thing.

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