Opponents of President Barack Obama's climate policies have offered plenty of analysis of ways for the Trump administration to go about reversing the Clean Power Plan. And now a coalition of attorneys general who have been fighting for several years to quash the rule have added their own program: In a letter to Vice president-elect Mike Pence, the group asked Pence to ensure an executive order to withdraw the rule is issued "on day one."
"The incoming administration and Congress now have the opportunity to withdraw this unlawful rule and prevent adoption of a similar rule in the future," the letter explains. "An executive order on day one is critical."
The letter reviews the states' objections to the Clean Power Plan, mainly their view that it exceeds the EPA's authority and illegally tramples on states' rights to address their own environmental concerns and power industries. The attorneys general ask for an executive order from the Trump administration rescinding President Barack Obama's presidential memorandum that directed the U.S. EPA to create the Clean Power Plan in the first place. The new president should also instruct the EPA to take no further action to enforce or implement the rule, the letter urges, and should pursue formal action to withdraw the rule and end the litigation against it. Finally, the states demand longer-term legislative action that could prevent a similar rule from being promulgated in the future.
Ending the litigation, or seeking a stay or settlement as suggested by the attorneys general, may be a tall order for the new president, as environmental groups are bracing for a legal fight to support the rule. While the EPA has previously defended the rule, that is not expected to continue under Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as the agency's next administrator. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club have pledged to fulfill that role in the litigation.
The letter's authors include attorneys general from 24 states that have been involved in the multiple legal challenges that have been mounted against the carbon-cutting rule for existing fossil fuel power plants since it was first proposed by the EPA. Noticeably absent from the letter is Pruitt himself, who has been heavily involved in the legal battle to abolish the rule.
The letter was spearheaded by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who has been an outspoken critic of the Clean Power Plan. He was joined by the chief legal officers from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Trump's EPA transition team leader Myron Ebell, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also received copies of the letter.