Once Defenders Of The EPA, State Attorneys General Now Vow To Fight It

Mar 28, 2017

President Donald Trump's executive order to review and possibly roll back the Clean Power Plan is drawing response from attorneys general in several states -- including Connecticut.

Announced in 2015 by President Barack Obama, the Clean Power Plan would have required states to invoke standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

But it's been hung up in courts since February of last year after more than two dozen states and other industry officials sued to block the measure, calling it unconstitutional.

Since then, attorneys general in nearly 20 states -- including Connecticut -- moved to defend the Clean Power Plan, but now because of Trump's executive order, those same state attorneys general could find themselves suing the federal government they were just defending.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said his office "absolutely" sees itself litigating against the EPA down the road.

"The core of our case is that dating back to 2007, in action by the EPA that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court -- it was determined that carbon dioxide is, in fact, a pollutant," Jepsen said.

"The EPA's responsibility once a pollutant has been identified is to correct it," Jepsen said. "If the EPA walks away from its legal obligation to take appropriate steps to reduce greenhouse emissions, especially carbon dioxide, we believe that would be in violation of their federal legal mandate."

Jepsen and attorneys general from 15 other states issued a joint statement Tuesday opposing Trump's executive action against the Clean Power Plan.

"We won’t hesitate to protect those we serve -- including by aggressively opposing in court President Trump's actions that ignore both the law and the critical importance of confronting the very real threat of climate change," the attorneys general wrote.

In addition to any possible litigation, the White House said any changes to the Clean Power Plan would also need to go through a period of public notice and comment, which could take years.