Nearly half the country on Friday sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its far-reaching climate regulations, which form the centerpiece of President Obama's sprawling agenda to combat climate change.

The rules, called the Clean Power Plan, "unlawfully expands the federal government's regulatory power over electricity production and consumption in nearly every State," said the 24 states suing the administration in a Friday release.

The states, led by West Virginia, have risen in number from an original group of 16. The states today include: Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Arizona Corporations Commission, and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

The states filed a Petition for Review Friday morning in federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. The states will also join with the coal industry in filing a motion to stay the rule — effectively putting it on ice — until the court has weighed the regulation's legality. The states "argue the Rule is illegal and will have devastating impacts upon the States and their citizens," according to a press release.

The Clean Power Plan "exceeds EPA's authority by unlawfully forcing States to fundamentally alter state resource-planning and energy policy by shifting from coal-fired generation to other sources of power generation, with a significant emphasis on renewable sources," according to release.

"The Clean Power Plan is one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in this nation's history," said West Virginia's Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. "West Virginia is proud to be leading the charge against this administration's blatant and unprecedented attack on coal."

"EPA claims to have sweeping power to enact such regulations based on a rarely-used provision of the Clean Air Act but such legal authority simply does not exist," Morrisey argues.

He adds that forcing such "drastic changes" in power production will drive up costs for consumers and threaten the reliability of the grid. The power plant rule places states on the hook to reduce their emissions one third by 2030 by eliminating fossil fuels and increasing reliance on intermittent solar and wind, the states argue.

"As attorney general, I have a responsibility to protect the lives of millions of working families, the elderly and the poor, from such illegal and unconscionable federal government actions," said Morrisey. "It's the people who can afford it least who are going to be affected the most."