Republican governor: Legal action likely against EPA’s ‘dangerous overreach’

HOUSTON — Litigation is “on the table” in the Republican fight against the Environmental Protection Agency’s newly proposed rules to dramatically cut states’ carbon emissions by 2030, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday.

“There’s a very good chance of litigation not only initiated by the states, but the industry is another,” Jindal said at a press briefing at the Petroleum Club in downtown Houston. “This is such a dangerous overreach in terms of the potential threat to our economy and our ability to restore those manufacturing jobs, I absolutely do think litigation needs to be on the table.”

Jindal and Texas Gov. Rick Perry were flanked by the governors of North Dakota and Wyoming in a brief press conference aimed at blasting the EPA’s proposed rule to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels over the next 15 years.

The rule is expected to gut the coal power industry across the United States. Coal plants have already fallen out of favor with utilities as cheap, low-carbon emitting natural gas surges. It’s expected to pave the way for more natural gas power plants.

Still, a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s authority should be a last-ditch option, Jindal said. First, Congress should stop the EPA from overreaching its authority, and voters should go to the polls in November to show their displeasure with the country’s energy policies, he said.

Perry said hundreds of thousands of jobs promised by the inertia of the U.S. energy boom will never materialize as long as the Obama Administration “continues to wage this war on American energy simply to appease what appears to m to be a tiny sliver of environmental extremists.”

“Today, we’re calling on President Obama to end his war on the energy industry because it will lead to greater reliance on foreign oil,” Perry said.

When asked whether Texas will benefit from the EPA’s proposed policy, as it promotes natural gas development, Perry said it’s not up to the federal government to decide which energy sources are winners and losers. He said 37.6 percent of the energy produced in Texas is by coal power plants.

“The idea that we should be picking and choosing – particularly Washington picking and choosing – is just outside of the realm of thoughtfulness from my perspective and certainly outside the realm of economic viability,” Perry said.

The Republican governors are grossly overestimating the potential economic damage of the carbon rule, said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas.

“We’ve seen how industry can rise to the challenge and use available technology to reduce our pollution while our economy grows,” he said. “As we replace dirty forms of energy with cleaner forms, that requires jobs. We already have thousands of people working in the wind industry, and as we bring on more clean energy, that’s going to create thousands of jobs.”

The rule gives states the flexibility to find workable solutions – including reducing the use of coal plants or replacing coal plants with gas-fired units, Metzger said.

Pressed further on whether an increase in natural gas power would benefit the state, Perry said, “I think it’s time for us not to look at what’s good for my state’s best interest, but what’s in this country’s best interest.”

“And I will suggest to you having an all-of-the-above energy strategy is what we need to look at from the standpoint of America’s energy security,” he said. “This isn’t about Texas energy security.”

Texas, Perry said, will be all right because “we already have an all-of-the-above strategy. I think trying to pit one sector against the other is not in the best interest of anyone.”

Perry, Jindal, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead were scheduled to meet with supporters of the Republican Governors Association later in Houston on Monday to discuss, among other things, the country’s energy policies, said Jon Thompson, a spokesman for the group.

After the press conference, nine Republican governors, including Perry and Jindal, sent a letter to President Obama urging “a pragmatic energy policy that balances our nation’s economic needs, energy security, and environmental quality objectives.”

The letter said the carbon emissions rule would “largely dictate to the states the type of electricity they could build and operate” and cut out coal from the nation’s energy mix.

Also on FuelFix:

The secret, dirty cost of Obama’s green power push