Kentucky’s Coleman joins other GOP attorneys general in challenging Biden power plant rules

Republished from Kentucky Lantern

Kentucky’s chief law enforcement officer has joined Republican attorneys general from 24 other states in challenging new federal rules aimed at curbing water pollution and nearly all greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired power plants and newly constructed gas-fired power plants.

Russell Coleman

A news release from Kentucky Republican Attorney General Russell Coleman on Thursday said the Environmental Protection Agency’s “package of job-killing energy regulations … would drive up prices on Kentucky families.” 

“We’re fighting this radical green agenda that would only leave Kentucky in the dark,” Coleman said in a  statement.

The challenge filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. says the attorneys general will “show that the final rule exceeds the agency’s statutory authority and otherwise is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with law.” 

The state legislature last month appropriated $3 million to Coleman to boost his efforts litigating federal environmental regulations.

The new EPA rules target the management of older toxic coal ash landfills and ponds created from burning coal for electricity, air pollution from mercury and other toxic metals from burning coal, wastewater pollution from coal-fired power plants and greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants. 

Specifically, one of the new regulations will require coal-fired power plants to “control” 90% of carbon emissions by 2032 if the plants are intended to run beyond 2039. If implemented, the rule would mean a sea change in how Kentucky generates its electricity. As of 2021, Kentucky was one of just four states that generated more than 70% of its electricity from burning coal, according to the Energy Information Administration. 

Michael Regan

Environmental groups have hailed the EPA rules as a long-awaited move to cut down on air and water pollution, particularly from coal-fired power plants. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the rules were fulfilling the Biden administration’s vision “to tackle climate change and to protect all communities from pollution in our air, water, and in our neighborhoods.”

The International Energy Agency has previously found that burning coal for electricity across the globe has been the single largest source of global temperature increase

Some utilities and lobbying organizations for the coal industry have pushed back on the rules, arguing they rely on unproven technologies to capture carbon emissions and could strain electricity reliability at a time when nationwide energy demand is surging

Anthony Campbell, the president and CEO of the nonprofit utility East Kentucky Power Cooperative, in a statement said the EPA’s attempt to “force wide adoption” of carbon capture technology will “be disastrous for America’s electric grid.” 

East Kentucky Power Cooperative, which generates electricity for 16 electric cooperatives in Central and East Kentucky, supported a bill passed into law by state legislators earlier this year that created new barriers for utilities to retire fossil fuel-fired power plants. 

Supporters of that legislation, Senate Bill 349, had argued it was needed to ensure the reliability of Kentucky’s electricity, a notion refuted by the leader of Kentucky’s largest utility Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities. Investor-owned utilities including LG&E and KU had joined environmental groups in opposing SB 349, arguing it could burden ratepayers with the costs of keeping aging, uneconomical coal-fired power plants online. 

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