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Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt Sues EPA Over Federal Clean Power Plan

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt prepares to greet Gov. Mary Fallin at the 2013 State of the State address at the state capitol.
Joe Wertz
StateImpact Oklahoma

When StateImpact reported on President Barack Obama’s proposal to cut carbon emissions 30 percent nationally by 2030, mainly through less reliance on coal-fired power plants, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s reaction made it clear a lawsuit was coming.

On Tuesday, it became official. Oklahoma joined West Virginia — which is leading the case — and 10 other states to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

From The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies:

The attorneys general —11 Republicans and one Democrat — contend the agency doesn’t have the legal authority to issue the proposed rules under Section 11(d) of the Clean Air Act. They said the proposed rules are in conflict with a 2011 settlement the EPA signed with some other states after a lawsuit brought by several environmental groups. Pruitt said the 2011 settlement said the EPA would use another section of the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions from power plants and stationary sources.

The settlement led to the rules Obama announced in early June. In a press release, Pruitt says “the EPA made a promise in 2011 to expand its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants” and the Clean Air Act doesn’t allow the agency to do that.

But EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Colaizzi told The Oklahoman the agency has a good track record when it comes to staying within the laws as passed by Congress:

“History has shown that EPA writes solid rules and they stand up in court — the courts have reaffirmed our science and reasoning time and time again,” Colaizzi said in an email. “The Supreme Court made clear in 2007, and just recently confirmed, EPA has an obligation to limit carbon pollution because it’s a harm to human health.”

Pruitt hasn’t had the best of luck going up against the EPA, with unsuccessful bids to stop the cross-state air pollution rule, mercury and air toxics protections, and regional haze rule. In June, University of Texas environmental law professor Thomas McGarity told StateImpact the courts usually “defer to EPA on these matters of scientific judgment.”

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

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Logan Layden is a reporter and managing editor for StateImpact Oklahoma. Logan spent six years as a reporter with StateImpact from 2011 to 2017.
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