Mike Cox (R)

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm overstepped her authority when she ordered state officials to change the way they permit new coal-fired power plants, the state attorney general said.

In an formal opinion issued Friday, Attorney General Mike Cox said the Democratic governor cannot order the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to consider the need for additional electricity generation when evaluating permits for new coal plants.

She also ordered that state regulators determine if there were "feasible and prudent alternatives" to the proposed coal plant that relied on renewable sources, such as solar and wind.

"Governors can sign bills into law, but they cannot write them. That is the legislature's job," Cox said. "If the governor wants to pursue changes to law, the legislature is the proper forum."

The governor outlined her new policy in her State of the State address earlier this month. House Minority Leader Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, and Rep. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, asked Cox to issue an opinion on the governor's directive.

Granholm said in her order that the U.S. Clean Air Act gives the state Department of Environmental Quality discretion to consider alternatives to proposed sources of air emissions.

There are five pending permits for coal-fired power plants in Michigan, which are all affected by the governor's directive.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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