Wisconsin joins 23 others in filing federal lawsuit against another section of Obama's “Clean Power Plan”

MADISON -- Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, along with 23 other states, filed a federal lawsuit against another section of the Obama Administration’s “Clean Power Plan” -- which aims to drastically reduce or eliminate coal-based energy generation by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by an average of 32 percent by 2030.

The section known as 111(b), sets carbon emission limits for newly constructed coal- and natural gas-fired power plants.

The suit asks the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. to strike down the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new source performance standards, which effectively prohibit the construction of new, coal-fired power plants, according to the AG's Office.

Below is a statement from the AG's Office:

“The EPA exceeded its authority in finalizing emissions standards that are unattainable in Wisconsin,” AG Schimel said. “Wisconsin is committed to attacking the EPA’s overregulation of our electric industry on all fronts.  This is one more battle we must fight to protect manufacturing jobs in our state.”

The rule prevents Wisconsin from building a new coal-fired power plant by requiring new plants to use carbon capture and sequestration, a developing technology that has not been “adequately demonstrated” as required by the Clean Air Act.  New coal plants are required to capture a portion of the carbon emissions, and pump the carbon to underground storage facilities.  Because Wisconsin’s geology does not support carbon storage, Wisconsin plants likely would be forced to build pipelines to transport captured carbon to another state, making the construction of a new plant cost-prohibitive.

The technology is not only costly, but unproven.  For example, the Kemper County energy facility, an electrical generating station in Mississippi attempting to install the technology, has spent three times the original budget and is more than two years behind schedule on the project.

Today’s filing follows a related challenge to another section of the “Clean Power Plan” – Section 111(d) which regulates emissions from existing power plants. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set limits on new power plants before it sets limits on existing plants.  If the states win their challenge on 111(b), it could prevent the EPA from enforcing regulations for both new and existing plants.

Other states joining Wisconsin in the lawsuit are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. Other petitioners are the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

Governor Scott Walker released the following statement regarding the Attorney General’s office joining a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 111(b) rule:

"Wisconsin is joining 23 other states in a lawsuit opposing the 111(b) rule issued by the Obama Administration.  Like the other provisions of the EPA’s Costly Power Plan, this rule also exceeds the administration’s authority and further increases the cost of electricity for Wisconsinites.

The Obama Administration ignored the concerns submitted by Wisconsin and other states across the nation, instead pursuing a political agenda that will increase costs and prevent the construction of future power plants producing reliable, affordable electricity for our state.

We are deeply committed to protecting Wisconsin businesses and ratepayers from the far-reaching impact of these rules."