Mike Cox (R)

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has drawn praise from the state's largest business group over his opinion that the governor overstepped her authority when she ordered state officials to change the way they permit new coal-fired power plants.

In a formal opinion issued Friday, Cox said Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm cannot order the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to consider the need for additional electricity generation when evaluating permits for new coal plants.

"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 Michigan Chamber of Commerce said Cox, a Republican, was right in his assessment.

"Everyone who lives and works in this state needs an energy policy that is consistent, clear and reasonable," Michigan Chamber President & CEO Rich Studley said Monday. "The governor's attempt to rewrite the energy bill after she signed it into law last year created great uncertainty about the regulatory process to build new electric generating capacity in Michigan."

In her executive order, Granholm also said 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.

"We're open to having wind and solar as part of the strategy to provide affordable and reliable power in our state, but an abundant natural resource like coal, combined with modern technology, must also be a part of that strategy," Roberts said in a statement.

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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