- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada’s attorney general is endorsing a multi-state legal fight against President Barack Obama’s plan to curtail greenhouse gas emissions with an opinion that says states have a right to decide pollution emission standards for themselves.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s friend-of-the-court filing in the case involving the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan was characterized by Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office as a fellow Republican “simply offering his legal opinion.”

“The governor did not request the filing,” Sandoval aide Mari St. Martin said.

Laxalt’s move drew more pointed criticism from some environmentalists as a disservice to the state.

John Friedrich, of the advocacy group Climate Parents, told the Nevada Appeal that Laxalt was choosing the interests of out-of-state coal corporations over the health and well-being of children, communities and climate.

Robert Buntjer, chairman of the Nevada Conservation League, said Laxalt “should back off his opposition … and send a message to the rest of the country that Nevada is ready to lead.”

Laxalt said he believes the EPA is exceeding its statutory authority in efforts to implement Obama’s plan.

“We are repeatedly seeing more federal regulation that is less tied to the actual text of the laws that federal agencies claim is the basis for their rules,” he said in a statement.

Laxalt’s filing, submitted Tuesday, came at the same time more than 200 members of Congress said they backed a lawsuit filed by about two dozen mostly GOP-led states to stop the EPA plan, which aims to slow climate change by cutting power-plant emissions by one-third by 2030.

The White House characterized the lawmakers’ brief as the product of “obstructionist Republicans in Congress who don’t even believe in the science of climate change.”

The lawsuit is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court last month barred the Obama administration from implementing the plan until the legal challenges are resolved.

The attorneys general of West Virginia and Texas are leading the legal fight, backed by 27 conservative states where some officials are openly dismissive of climate science and where many jobs rely on economic activity tied to fossil fuels.

Laxalt was joined in the Nevada brief by the independent educational organization Consumers’ Research.

“The new rule will broadly affect energy consumers across the nation, raising average annual electricity rates by up to 14 percent and increasing costs to U.S. consumers by up to $79 billion,” Laxalt’s statement said.

Monica Moazez, spokeswoman for Laxalt, told The Associated Press that Sandoval was correct that the friend-of-the-court brief was just an opinion.

St. Martin noted that the governor expects a recommendation from his recently reconvened Energy Industry Task Force, which was originally formed in 2011 to promote development of renewable energy.

Sandoval also joined 16 other governors in signing a Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future aimed at encouraging clean energy and transportation as part of a national shift to renewable fuels.

The states vary widely in their approach and sources of fuel, but the bipartisan group said the goal was to cooperate on planning and policies.

Moazez said Laxalt decided not to join the lawsuit itself because state agencies and experts determined Nevada wouldn’t be affected the way other states might be.

“Nevada is uniquely situated because … Nevada apparently wouldn’t see any consumer rate increases,” Moazez said.

But the state still would be harmed, Laxalt’s brief said, if the EPA regulations hurt the national economy and cost consumers in other states money they might otherwise spend visiting Nevada.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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