New Republican AG noncommittal on fighting EPA regulations

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s new attorney general, a Republican, appears as non-committal as his Democratic predecessor on fighting proposed EPA regulations directing states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent.

Attorneys general in states such as Texas and Oklahoma have already vowed to fight those regulations.

Last month, the Tennessee Supreme Court appointed Republican Herbert Slattery to replace Bob Cooper.

Earlier this month, the Boston-based NERA, an international economic consulting group, released a study for various coal and farming industry interests showing the EPA’s plan would cost Tennessee more than $366 billion.

SLATTERY: Last month, the Tennessee Supreme Court appointed Republican Herbert Slattery to replace Bob Cooper.

The report said the regulations would force the average Tennesseans’ electricity rates to increase 17 percent.

Slattery’s spokeswoman, Leigh Ann Apple Jones, had little to say in an emailed statement.

“This office continues to consult with our client, TN Dept of Environment and Conservation, regarding the proposed guidelines,” Jones said.

As reported, in Tennessee the EPA regulations would only seem to affect the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to 9 million people in seven southeastern states, including most of Tennessee’s 95 counties, according to its website.

The TVA is a corporation owned by the U.S. government operating six coal-fired power plants in Allen, Bull Run, Cumberland, Gallatin, Johnsonville and Kingston.

TVA officials said they’ve already reduced carbon emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels — but they would not comment to Tennessee Watchdog in June about the newly proposed regulations’ impact on jobs or electricity rates.

One member of Tennessee’s General Assembly, Glen Casada, R-Franklin, said in June he found the regulations so disturbing he wanted the Legislature to order the attorney general — then Cooper — to take action against the EPA.

Casada told Tennessee Watchdog this week he’s still working on legislation that would do just that, regardless of who occupies the AG chair.

“At this point I don’t know what the new attorney general might do,” Casada said.

COAL EMISSIONS: A TVA power plant in Kentucky.

“But Tennessee law clearly says that the attorney general would have to go through with it if the Legislature said he had to.”

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman Kelly Brockman said Friday public comment on the proposed regulations is scheduled to end Dec. 1.

“At this time, TDEC is continuing to work on our comments,” Brockman said in an emailed statement.

“The EPA plans to issue the final guidelines by next summer. If this happens, states will have at least one year to submit a plan to the EPA on how each state would meet these requirements.”

Scott Banbury, spokesman for the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club, said in June that new alternative energies will counteract any concerns state officials have about the new regulations killing jobs.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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