The U.S. mining industry said Monday it was considering legal action in response to tighter greenhouse gas rules unveiled by the Obama administration.
The final version of the Clean Power Plan, envisioned last year, sets a goal of cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, by 32 percent of their 2005 baseline by 2030, 9 percent more than in the original proposal.
The Environmental Protection Agency said the measure will enhance public health in a way to stimulates the economy and leads to a 30 percent increase in renewable energy generation by 2030. For consumers, the EPA said the average family will save about $85 annually once the all reforms are in place.
The Clean Power Plan would require states to meet specific emission reductions based on state-by-state energy consumption criteria. National Mining Association President and Chief Executive Officer Hal Quinn said the onus rests with state governors, who can choose between accepting a "flawed plan" or rejecting the EPA's mandate.
"NMA filed a request today with EPA to stay the rule while the courts have the opportunity to determine the lawfulness of the agency's attempt to commandeer the nation's electric grid," he said in a statement. "If EPA denies our request we will ask the courts to do so."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year found carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels accounted for 78 percent of the total emissions increase from 1970 to 2010. The International Energy Agency in early 2015 said investments in renewable energy, meanwhile, was weak, but noted in a later report that generation of renewable energy from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, of which the United States is a member, made up 22 percent of all the power output from IEA members last year, the highest since 1975.
Senate leaders last week included measures in an energy bill that would ensure coal remains an important part of the U.S. energy portfolio.
"It is critical for America to establish an all-of-the-above energy portfolio that includes all of our domestic resources and to face the fact that coal will play an integral role in producing our electricity for decades to come," U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in a statement.
The Natural Resources Defense Council described the new mandate as a game-changer. NRDC President Rhea Suh said taking action now will prevent pollution problems for future generations.
"It also means that we'll all soon start breathing a little easier," she said in a statement. "The Clean Power Plan will slash the pollution that worsens smog and intensifies cases of asthma and other respiratory diseases."
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the EPA's efforts to limit mercury and other toxic pollutant emissions without accounting for costs.
In the lead case, Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, industry groups and Republican-led states challenged an order from President Barack Obama to reduce electricity-generating power plant emissions on mercury and other pollutants that can lead to respiratory illnesses, birth defects and developmental problems in children.
The EPA action was against coal and oil-fired power plants that contribute to about half of the country's output of mercury. The new rules on mercury and other pollutants such as chromium, arsenic and nickel, were to begin in April and would have taken full effect in 2016, with the aim of reducing toxic emissions by 90 percent.