New Jersey challenges EPA’s Clean Power Plan

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     New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin contends the federal Clean Power Plan is 'a major overreach by EPA authority nationally, which is a major problem for New Jersey.' (NewsWorks file photo)

    New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin contends the federal Clean Power Plan is 'a major overreach by EPA authority nationally, which is a major problem for New Jersey.' (NewsWorks file photo)

    New Jersey is asking the EPA to reconsider its new Clean Power Plan, which requires each state to meet a personalized carbon emission goal for its power plants.

    “This is a major overreach by EPA authority nationally, which is a major problem for New Jersey,” said Bob Martin, the commissioner of state’s Department of Environmental Protection. “The regulation itself is very cumbersome, very confusing, and it will cost the state of New Jersey and ratepayers a significant amount of money.”

    In a letter sent to the agency on Wednesday, Martin requested an administrative stay, calling the regulations “ill-conceived” and “fundamentally flawed.” He argued that it’s unfair to hold the state to a higher standard just because it has already made progress on carbon pollution.

    As of 2012, New Jersey gets more than half of its electricity from nuclear power, and just 3 percent from coal.

    Martin said the state has not yet decided whether it will take the matter to court if the request is denied.

    But University of Pennsylvania law professor Cary Coglianese said that is almost certainly what will happen.

    “The administrative stay is just a prelude to litigation,” he said.

    More than a dozen other states, led by coal-rich West Virginia, have already filed stays with the U.S. Court of Appeals.

    Doug O’Malley of Environment New Jersey said he was disappointed, although not surprised, with the Garden State’s action.

    “As we near the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, climate change is not esoteric for New Jersey,” he said. “Unfortunately, this letter is continuing a disturbing trend of pointing fingers and saying it’s someone else’s problem. It’s not.”

    In response to draft versions of the Clean Power Plan rules last year, New Jersey’s DEP submitted similar objections. Under the final rule, New Jersey is expected to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 26 percent below 2012 levels by 2030. The nation as a whole aims to reduce carbon pollution by 32 percent from 2005 levels.

    Environmentalists also accused the Christie administration of fighting the regulations for political gain.

    “This has more to do with playing up to the right wing of the Republican Party and the climate deniers than it is about what’s doing best for New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey’s Sierra Club.

    In a statement, the EPA said it will “vigorously defend” the regulations in court.

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