Kan. AG asks court to block new EPA rules

Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 20, 2011, 11:26am


TOPEKA, Kan. (Legal Newsline) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Monday asked a federal appeals court to block new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that he expects will increase the cost of electricity for state consumers.

Schmidt filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking the court to reject the new regulations, which will require Kansas utilities to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new emissions control equipment before Jan. 1, 2012

The state's utilities argue that the timeline is impossible to meet.

"The EPA gave Kansas only five months to make major changes to the way electricity is generated in our state," Schmidt said in a statement. "It will be physically impossible for all of our utilities to comply, which means that either Kansans will be paying higher rates to buy out-of-state electricity or there simply will not be enough electricity to meet Kansas demand after the first of the year.

"Neither of those is an acceptable option," he said.

Kansas is challenging the so-called Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which was published by the EPA in August.

The EPA claims the rule is intended to prevent air pollution from states like Kansas from contributing to air-quality problems in downwind states in the Northeast.

Pursuant to the rule, the EPA has imposed stringent new emissions limits on power plants in Kansas and is demanding that these new limits be met beginning in January.

Schmidt said Kansas disputes the EPA's analysis of Kansas emissions levels, overestimating the state's contribution to downwind air quality.

He said the rushed implementation of the new rule will "needlessly" add millions of dollars of costs to Kansas utilities, and those costs will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher electricity rates. It also will divert resources from investments in the utilities' existing long-term pollution control plan, the attorney general said.

"This is an example of the EPA imposing its will on the states rather than working cooperatively with Kansas toward the shared goal of cleaner air," Schmidt said.

"The major problem with that approach is that it's contrary to federal law -- Congress anticipated that the Clean Air Act would be implemented cooperatively between the states and the federal government. This EPA attempt to short-circuit that proven cooperative approach is unwise and, in our view, unlawful."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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