Thirty-nine Senate Republicans wrote a letter Aug. 1 asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw proposed limits on coal- and gas-fired plants put forth by the agency in May.

The Republicans told EPA Administrator Michael Regan that the agency overstepped its legal authority under the Clean Air Act to curb emissions from the plants.

The EPA proposal would require coal plants to capture 90% of their emissions by 2030. Gas plants, new and existing, would need to capture 90% of their emissions by 2035 or run mostly on hydrogen energy by 2038.

In its proposal the EPA cited multiple examples of existing and planned power generating projects that use carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and hydrogen co-firing technologies, which are bedrock strategies for achieving its newly proposed carbon emission reductions.

Senate Republicans said these were “sweeping claims” about the future availability of CCS and hydrogen co-firing. They said these technologies “are still nascent and have not yet been adequately demonstrated.”

The new rules replace the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which was proposed in 2015 but ran into multiple legal challenges and never took effect. Even so, in the 2022 ruling of West Virginia v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Obama administration’s approach exceeded the EPA’s authority to regulate power plant emissions under the Clean Air Act. Specifically, the court said EPA couldn’t direct plants to shift from dirty sources of energy to cleaner ones like wind and solar.

The GOP senators claimed in their latter that the latest EPA proposal was in “direct conflict” with West Virginia v. EPA.

“While the Agency falsely claims this does not run afoul of the Supreme Court’s decision, it is undeniable the proposal would require generation shifting that the Court has definitively found Congress has never granted EPA the authority to require under the Clean Air Act,” the letter reads.

EPA is allowing public comment on the proposed rules until August 8.

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