Advance Notice: Briefs

Nessel withdraws from EPA pollution lawsuits

By: - January 22, 2019 10:34 pm

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Getty Images

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is withdrawing from legal battles against President Barack Obama-era rules meant to fight pollution.

Nessel’s office on Friday filed to remove Michigan from two lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One challenges the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, while the other lawsuit aims to fight limits on toxic substances emitted by coal plants.

Dana Nessel

On Tuesday, the Democrat, who took office on Jan. 1, announced that her office will withdraw from two additional lawsuits challenging rules governing methane and greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

“Under my watch, Michigan will not be a party to lawsuits that challenge the reasonable regulations aimed at curbing climate change and protecting against exposure to mercury and other toxic substances,” Nessel said in a statement.

Other states remain involved in the legal battles supported by former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican.

The Clean Power Plan — announced under Obama — limits power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2016 to delay rolling out those new regulations. Under President Donald Trump, the EPA proposed repealing the measure altogether while implementation is stalled pending court resolution.

Nessel’s office has also asked to be removed from a lawsuit challenging a 2016 EPA finding that it’s “appropriate and necessary” to regulate air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

The legal challenge was originally filed by the Murray Energy Corporation, which calls itself “the largest privately-held coal company in the United States,” in court documents.

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Michael Gerstein
Michael Gerstein

Michael Gerstein is a former Advance reporter covering the Governor's office, criminal justice and the environment.