Michigan Gov. Snyder, AG Schuette Disagree on Clean Power Plan

Published October 14, 2015

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced his state will not challenge the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) despite Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s decision to join a lawsuit challenging CPP’s legality.

Snyder emphasized if Schuette joins the lawsuit, he will be acting as an individual rather than as a representative of the State of Michigan.

Snyder directed state officials to devise a Michigan-specific carbon dioxide reduction plan to comply with CPP, which places tougher burdens on some states than others. CPP mandates different reduction levels for each state.

Because Michigan relies on coal-fired power plants for more than 50 percent of its energy, CPP requires the state to cut carbon dioxide emissions from its power plants by more than 39 percent by 2030, which is steeper than the nationwide average, which is about a 32 percent reduction.

Schuette previously announced he would join attorneys general from 15 states challenging CPP, arguing it violates the Clean Air Act. State officials assert CPP unlawfully co-opts a state’s authority to manage the composition of its power sector.

To Comply or Not

Defending his decision to comply with CPP, Snyder argued Michigan should take advantage of the limited discretion EPA gives it to devise a plan aimed at reducing CPP’s economic impact on the state. The alternative, Snyder said, is to risk Washington, DC bureaucrats imposing their own implementation plan on Michigan.

Schuette sides with affordable energy advocates who say it is better for Michigan to fight back against the expensive, legally questionable federal mandates than simply accept them. 

Legislators Push Back

In the dispute over the best response to CPP, many legislators are siding with Schuette.

“I fully support Attorney General Schuette’s court challenge to [Obama’s] energy regulations,” Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland) told Environment & Climate News. “The real casualties of the Obama administration’s war on coal are the poor, the elderly on fixed incomes, and low-income workers struggling to pay their electric bills today.

“Compounding the harm here in Michigan, the major utilities are exploiting our coal plant closures as a pretext for a massive new regulatory regime intended to push competition out of the market and drive electricity prices even higher,” said Glenn.

Glenn agrees with Schuette’s argument CPP violates the U.S. Constitution.

“The president’s plan is a massive overreach of federal power that the Constitution reserved to the states, and I support every effort to return that authority to Michigan and the states, where it rightfully belongs,” Glenn said.

Tiffany Taylor ([email protected]) writes from Chicago.