Slatery won’t sue EPA; GOP legislators unhappy

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery opted not to join in a legal challenge to the new carbon restrictions on power plants being pushed in 27 other states, reports the Times-Free Press.

Slatery’s decision comes despite complaints from GOP lawmakers opposed to the new EPA rules. Attorneys general in 27 other states, including most of Tennessee’s neighhbors, have joined a lawsuit against the rules.

…Harlow Sumerford, communications director for the Tennessee Attorney General, said concerns about EPA’s initial carbon control regulations “have been alleviated in the final rule” by allowing TVA to count its new Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor toward its carbon reduction targets and by extending the enforcement date for the new rules by another couple of years.

“We will continue to monitor the situation, as well as consult with impacted parties,” Sumerford said, but Slatery decided against joining the lawsuit by Tuesday’s filing deadline for such challenges.

That decision has upset many of the 59 legislators who signed a letter in August asking Slatery to join the lawsuit against EPA.

State Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, who authored the letter, said Tuesday she is “very disappointed” that Tennessee “is not doing the right thing” by challenging what she calls “junk science.”

…State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, called the EPA rules “an overreach of the federal government” and urged Slatery to reconsider and join the fight against the new rules to avoid higher power rates for businesses and consumers.

The lawmakers also said they wish that Tennessee’s Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau had not flown to Paris this month for the United Nations climate change conference. His trip was paid for by the Climate Action Reserve and not state taxpayers, according to TDEC spokeswoman Kelly Brockman.

“He still shouldn’t have gone and participated in an international event where we committed to a plan that will make power rates more costly,” Bowling said.

But Myers said TVA expects annual rate increases of only a fraction of what critics claim. He said TVA rates should rise about 1.5 percent a year in the next decade, comparable to what it has raised rates for the past couple of years since Bill Johnson took over as TVA’s CEO.