Legislators ask AG to file another lawsuit against EPA

While 63 state legislators urged state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over new federal water pollution rules, just 19 have now signed a letter last week urging him to join a lawsuit against new EPA air pollution rules.

A Democrat-oriented group, meanwhile, has been established within the state to promote approval of the air pollution regulations.

Slatery followed the 63 legislators’ advice on the “Waters of the United States” rules — a coalition of business organizations sent a similar letter — and filed the requested lawsuit. He has not responded to the new request from 19 legislators.

Two Democrats joined the water pollution request letter. Only 19 Republicans — including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey — signed the air pollution lawsuit request letter.

“The entry of Tennessee into the lawsuit regarding the overreaching, nonscientific based EPA rules regarding the waterways of the U.S. was correct and necessary,” said the latter letter. “It was the right thing to do to push back against a political agenda driven by an out-of-control EPA.

“Equally necessary is our need to join in a suit opposing the new rules against the emission of carbon dioxide. If these new rules weren’t so potentially devastating to the cost of producing the coal-fired generation of electricity, they would be laughable. Carbon dioxide is produced by respiration, not combustion. It is the essential element in the photosynthesis cycle, which results in oxygen and food.”

“As Tennesseans who rely on the accessibility of affordable, dependable electricity, we cannot allow a runaway federal agency to destroy the economic development of our state,” the letter says. “As Americans who have a responsibility to our future and the economic sustainability of our way of life, we must stand in opposition to these agenda-driven new rules.”

Lenda Sherrell, who lost to Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais last year as the Democratic nominee in Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District, is now heading a group supporting President Barack Obama’s efforts on climate change.

In an email to media, Sherrell described Act on Climate-Tennessee campaign as “a statewide grassroots community group that’s working to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and the first ever federal limits on dangerous carbon pollution.”

The group distributed comments supporting the cause from Democratic U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis as well as former 4th District Congressman Lincoln Davis, a Democrat from Pall Mall, and state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville. Several others were listed as supporters of the effort, including Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and members of the Chattanooga and Nashville city councils.

Says Cohen in his comment:

“Make no mistake, there are lives at stake. A new peer-reviewed study found that if implemented, the Clean Power Plan will save 3,500 to 6,100 lives per year. So the answer to ‘Who might it help?’ is pretty clear — thousands of Americans. And who might it hurt? Only those who stand to profit from the burning of fossil fuels that make people sick while causing climate change. So for the sake of the health of Americans, let’s listen to what the experts, and our experience, has to say about the Clean Power Plan. All the real-world indications are that clean energy will bring down prices, improve health and, of course, help fight climate change.”