Attorney General Alan Wilson is among officials in 24 states urging President-elect Donald Trump to reverse course on a plan to limit greenhouse gases from power plants.
The target is a federal rule called the Clean Power Plan, a proposal by the Obama Administration to curb gases that contribute to climate change. The rule would require cuts in carbon dioxide pollution at power companies across the country.
Wilson is among attorneys general in more than two dozen states who have already sued to stop the rule. The matter is hung up in federal court and may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But Wilson, a Republican, and leaders from other GOP-dominated states asked Trump last week to take separate action against the rule while the matter is in court.
“This flawed plan was brought about in an unconstitutional manner, circumventing Congress and excluding the vote of the people’s representatives,” Wilson said in a news release.
The letter to Trump, dated Dec. 14, said the Clean Power Plan is unlawful and an infringement on states’ rights. The letter urges Trump to issue an executive order on his first day in office to reverse course on the rule, then take steps to formally withdraw it. The letter says Congress and Trump should work to “ensure that similar or more extreme unlawful steps are not attempted by a future” Environmental Protection Agency.
Wilson, who also has challenged the federal government to stop a wetlands protection rule, asked Trump to “shelve’’ the climate plan, arguing that it would increase energy costs by 30 percent.
“I am hopeful that the Trump administration will put this at the top of the priority list,’’ Wilson said.
Environmentalists disputed Wilson’s prediction of a 30 percent rise in energy costs because of the plan. The plan actually will benefit South Carolina by cleaning up power plant pollution while costing the state little money, environmental lawyer Blan Holman said. South Carolina power plants would easily comply and have enough capacity to sell pollution credits to other states, said Holman, who is with the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Some estimates indicate the state could earn $1 billion by selling excess credits to other states. The state’s use of nuclear power is expected to help it comply Holman said.
“Without the Clean Power Plan, we lose,’’ Holman said, questioning Wilson’s prediction that energy costs could rise by 30 percent. “I don’t understand the math.’’
Nationally, the plan calls for cutting carbon pollution by about one-third by 2030. The Obama administration unveiled its plan more than two years ago. It was challenged in court later that year by Wilson and other attorneys general, who called it government over-reach.
Spokespeople for the Santee Cooper and SCE&G power companies declined to say whether the utilities could earn money selling credits, but they said the companies are prepared for the Clean Power Plan.
Ginny Jones, a spokeswoman for the SCE&G utility in Columbia, said the company is “well-positioned’’ to comply with the requirements. Along with Santee Cooper, SCE&G is building two nuclear reactors north of Columbia at its existing Summer power station.
The letter to Trump that Wilson signed was sent through the West Virginia attorney general’s office.
Attorneys general signing the letter included those from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Officials in Mississippi and at the North Carolina Departments of Environmental Quality also signed the letter.
The earth’s changing climate has created challenges across the world. Ice caps are melting, sea level is rising and research shows that extreme weather, such as droughts and floods, are becoming the norm. Sea level rise is a particularly big issue on South Carolina’s coast, where more frequent flooding has been documented in recent years.
Trump, however, has questioned the reality of climate change, at one point calling it a Chinese plot to hurt America. He has threatened to pull the U.S. out of the recent Paris climate accord and offered one of the nation’s most ardent climate change skeptics, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, as director of the EPA. Pruitt was among those suing to stop the Clean Power Plan.