Cities join legal fight to support EPA carbon restrictions

Some of the largest cities in the United States filed a federal motion last week in support of the Obama administration’s plan to curb greenhouse gas restrictions, joining 18 states and other local governments to oppose lawsuits challenging the plan.

According to Reuters, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National league of Cities, and 13 other cities filed motions in federal court last Tuesday in support of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The Conference of Mayors represents more than 1,200 cities with populations larger than 30,000, and the National league of Cities represents over 19,000 US cities that are home to total of 218 million people.

Known as a ‘friend of the court motion’, the move was made in response to lawsuits filed against the Environmental Protection Agency in October by 26 mostly Republican-led states and a number of pro-fossil fuel industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who call the plan an “unlawful power grab” that will drive up electricity costs, reports Associated Press.

The Clean Power Plan seeks to reduce emissions from existing power plants by around one-third by 2030. It also calls for the development of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. But coal-reliant states, which fear the rule will kill coal-mining jobs, argue that the rule goes beyond the limits of the EPA’s regulatory authority, explains Reuters.

In some cases, the legal actions are pitting cities against their own states, writes Associated Press. Houston, West Palm Beach in Florida, and Jersey City in New Jersey, which all joined the lawsuit, have Democratic mayors, while the states themselves, which oppose the EPA rule, all have Republican governors.

The municipal advocacy groups and cities join 18 states and other local governments, including New York City, Chicago and South Miami, that filed motions in support of the EPA rule in November, together with two former Republican EPA administrators, William Ruckelshaus and William Reilly.

Michael Burger of Columbia University Law School, who authored Tuesday’s legal motion, told Reuters that local governments are on the “front lines” of climate change.

 

Image credit: Dave Buchhofer, flickr/Creative Commons

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