Twenty-three states said they filed a petition with a U.S. appeals court on Friday to block the Obama administration's proposal to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, the centerpiece of its high-profile climate change strategy.
West Virginia, Texas, Florida and Ohio were among the states challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, saying it pushed the limits of the federal Clean Air Act.
"EPA claims to have sweeping power to enact such regulations based on a rarely-used provision of the Clean Air Act but such legal authority simply does not exist," West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said.
The states filed a petition for review and motions to stay, or block, the rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arguing such curbs will have "devastating impacts" on their economies.
It is rare for the D.C. circuit court to grant stay requests.
The court did not block the Obama administration's first wave of climate regulations earlier in his presidency, and it recently allowed the Federal Communication Commission's new rules on Internet traffic to proceed. But in December 2011, the court did block an EPA air regulation to limit pollution crossing state lines.
Janet McCabe, the EPA's assistant administrator for the office of air and radiation, defended the legality of the Clean Power Plan on Thursday and said it was written with extensive input from states and "conforms to legal precedent."
Environmental advocacy groups said they were confident the EPA rule, which aims to lower emissions from the country's power plants by 2030 to 32 percent below the current level set in 2005, would survive legal challenges.
"The Clean Power Plan follows the tradition of federal-state partnerships that courts have upheld time and again against constitutional challenge," said Howard Fox, counsel at Earthjustice.
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