Long before President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its major climate rule for power plants this week, legislators around the country were working to undercut it with a big money conservative group nudging them along.
In at least eight states, lawmakers have approved symbolic anti-EPA resolutions based on a model approved by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that has shaped controversial state measures on issues like Stand Your Ground gun laws and opposition to Obamacare exchanges.
Kentucky has gone even further, enacting a law this spring that could block the state from complying with EPA’s rule. West Virginia and Kansas have new laws taking aim at the regulation one way or another, and states like Ohio, Louisiana and Missouri are considering similar measures.
The resistance in state capitals is a pre-emptive strike for conservatives — and yet another sign that Obama’s opponents are plotting a long-term strategy to try to deny him and his liberal allies a long-sought victory on climate change.
If the anti-EPA trend catches fire, it would force the agency to write a greenhouse gas reduction plan for every state that refuses to submit its own. That would bring renewed accusations of federal overreach, mirroring what happened when HealthCare.gov wound up becoming the health care exchange for 36 states, and it would thwart EPA’s hopes of letting each state choose its own strategy for reducing power plants’ carbon pollution.
“It’s a political stunt,” said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, who doubts the legislative attacks will succeed. “It appears to be a form of ‘ready, fire, aim.’ They are shopping this provision without knowing what the proposed rule was, much less the final rule.”