Maine is joining a coalition of states, cities and counties across the country to defend the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” against legal challenge. Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills announced the decision on November 4. 

Several states and industry groups have filed suits challenging the Clean Power Plan’s rule that requires fossil-fueled power plants, the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation, to reduce their emissions pursuant to the Clean Air Act. The coalition that Maine has joined is responding to those suits with a motion to intervene in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 

Attorney General Mills said, “Fossil fuel–burning power plants beyond Maine’s borders contribute not only to poor air quality locally, but they can also be blamed for fish consumption warnings, due to mercury emitted from their smokestacks. The EPA needs to take steps to protect the health of Maine people and our environment by adopting the Clean Power Plan.” 

Joining the coalition are the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, the District of Columbia, the City of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boulder, South Miami and Broward County (Florida).

The Clean Power Plan caps a decade-long effort by states and cities to require mandatory cuts in emissions of fossil fuel-­burning power plants under the Clean Air Act. The EPA based the plan, which covers existing, rebuilt and new power plants, on states’ and utilities’ experience in reducing power plants’ greenhouse-gas emissions. The rule that will apply to existing plants is expected to eliminate as much climate-change pollution as is emitted by more than 160 million internal-combustion vehicles a year, equivalent to 70 percent of the nation’s passenger cars.