North Dakota Plans Suit Over Clean Power Plan

North Dakota Plans Suit Over Clean Power Plan

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota will sue over new federal rules designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has confirmed.

North Dakota is among 16 states that will have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions the most under Environmental Protection Agency rules President Barack Obama unveiled in August. Under the new standards, North Dakota must cut its emission rate by almost 45 percent by 2030.

State officials have been considering a legal fight and Stenehjem made it official on Tuesday, saying the lawsuit will come as soon as the new rules are published in the Federal Register, possibly later this month, The Bismarck Tribune reported. In the meantime, state health officials will work to develop an implementation plan for the new rules.

"It does not make sense for North Dakota to sit back and decide we're not going to do anything," Stenehjem said. "We need to be ready and try to comply the best we can while we continue along the litigation path."

North Dakota will not join with other states in a lawsuit because North Dakota's coal industry faces unique circumstances, Stenehjem said.

Power plants in North Dakota use lignite, an abundant but low-grade coal mined in the state. The high-moisture coal produces more emissions and burns less efficiently than drier coals.

When the new rules are published, North Dakota will ask an appeals court in Washington, D.C., to block them while the lawsuit proceeds.

"We'll be ready to pounce as soon as that happens," Stenehjem said.

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