Environment

Kentucky on Friday joined 23 other states in a legal challenge against the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations against carbon dioxide from existing power plants.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced the lawsuit Friday, after the EPA’s regulations were published in the Federal Register.

The rules require states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In the petition, the states argue that the EPA doesn’t have the authority to do this under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, which is what the regulation is based on. It also argues that coal-fired power plants are already regulated under another section of the Clean Air Act, and the EPA isn’t allowed to double regulate.

This lawsuit has been in the works for more than a year. Last summer, Conway joined a dozen other states in a similar suit. But in June, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was too early, because the rule hadn’t been finalized.

As soon as the rule was finalized in August, the states again took action, asking the court to issue an emergency stay to block the rules. Again, the court told the states to cool their heels and wait until the rule was published in the federal register.

That publication happened Friday, and the number of states participating in the lawsuit has doubled. The petition argues that the rules will cost more than $25 billion annually and will raise electricity rates by more than 10 percent.

The EPA says the plan will cut carbon dioxide pollution, offering benefits to both health and the climate. It estimates the rule will save $34 billion to $54 billion a year through reduced premature deaths and other health improvements. The agency says those savings will outweigh the costs of implementing the rules.

Conway is also running for Kentucky governor, and has used his opposition to the EPA in his gubernatorial campaign.

The other states challenging the rule include West Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, as well as regulatory agencies in Arizona, Louisiana and North Carolina.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Assignment Editor.