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Monday, August 25, 2014

Environment - "Indiana continues to take on EPA over power plant rules"

Maureen Groppe, Star Washington Bureau, writes today in a lengthy analysis that begins:

WASHINGTON — Four times in recent years, the federal government has proposed controls for power plants that spew pollution and contribute to global warming.

Four times, the state of Indiana has gone to court to fight them.

The state has been part of legal challenges to Environmental Protection Agency rules that would:

• Reduce cross-state air pollution that makes it difficult for some states to meet clean air requirements.

• Limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants.

• Regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other large stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

And even before a much more significant rule on greenhouse gas emissions is finished next year, Indiana this month joined 11 other states in trying to block the EPA from completing the regulation.

"Indiana I would not put in the group of states that particularly have a high environmental consciousness," said Jim Barnes, a former EPA administrator in the Nixon and Reagan administrations who teaches at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington.

What Indiana does have, Barnes said, is some coal mining, an electrical utility industry that relies heavily on coal and a history of relatively low electricity rates because of that. Add to that conservative leaders leery of the federal government meddling in state affairs.

"So what they're looking to do is to try to keep the use of coal as available to the state as they can," Barnes said.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has another take on what the state is trying to do: Keep the EPA in line.

Zoeller said it's not his role to weigh the costs of complying with a federal regulation against the benefits to public health and the environment when deciding whether to challenge a rule.

"The governor and others have policy views," Zoeller said. "Ours is a legal question about administrative authority."

The EPA, Zoeller argues, has been overstepping its authority by issuing regulations that go beyond what it has been empowered by Congress to do through the Clean Air Act passed in 1970.

"In each case, it's not that we necessarily win or lose, but I think it's appropriate that we challenge because EPA has been fairly aggressive in pressing beyond what at least a lot of members of Congress thought they were passing," Zoeller said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 25, 2014 10:49 AM
Posted to Environment