Thirty states and dozens of industry groups blasted the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday in response to the agency's legal arguments that their lawsuit opposing its far-reaching climate rules is "hyperbolic" and should be thrown out of court.
"EPA ties itself in knots," the states argue, saying the agency's legal case is "torn between touting the rule's significance and downplaying the extraordinary nature of what it seeks to do."
The states argue that the EPA's Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Obama's climate agenda, goes beyond the agency's legal authority in its effort to restructure the states' power grids toward more renewable energy.
The EPA calls the argument "hyperbolic," which enraged opponents of the rule in the weeks since it filed its legal arguments in March with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court will hear oral arguments in June.
"While EPA labels this concern 'hyperbolic,' the agency can point to nothing in its textual analysis that would prohibit it from banning disfavored types of generation," such as coal in favor of solar and wind, the states argue. "If EPA were to maintain that a complete shift to renewable generation were 'achievable,' its asserted authority would enable it to completely 'decarboniz[e]' the power sector by setting performance rates of zero."
The plan requires the states to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions a third by 2030, which they argue is not what the Clean Air Act that establishes the agency's authority allows. Many scientists blame the emissions for causing the Earth's temperature to rise, resuling in sea-level rise, glacier melting and ocean acidification.
"EPA has crossed a line by assigning itself vast regulatory authority that surpasses anything ever contemplated by Congress," said Jeffrey Connor, the interim CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which is opposing the climate plan.
"The fact is that EPA didn't produce a rule simply to reduce emissions — it crafted a radical plan to restructure the U.S. power sector."