ST. PAUL, Minn. (March 23, 2016) – An important Minnesota House committee has approved a bill that would take a small, but important, first step in setting the foundation to reject some federal EPA rules and regulations in practice.
A bipartisan coalition of 33 representatives sponsored House Bill 333 (HF333). The legislation would prohibit the commissioner of the state Pollution Control Agency from submitting any plan to the EPA to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan unless it’s been approved by state law. In other words, any state plan to comply with EPA regulations relating to CO2 emissions from existing coal power plants would have to be approved by the state legislature.
The Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee approved HF333 and referred it to the Ways and Means Committee. Opponents tried to block the bill with a motion to send it to a different committee that would have likely been less favorable. That vote failed in the full House 73-55.
While the proposed law would not guarantee the state would reject compliance with EPA mandates, it would set the foundation to do so. It would also bring the entire process into the public spotlight, allowing Minnesota residents to have input into the process.
As it currently stands, the Pollution Control Agency and the EPA can work behind the scenes to adopt such plans without any public or legislative input at all. The department acts, in practice, like a part of the federal government. HF333 reasserts some state authority over the Pollution Control Agency and the entire process.
With the federal courts putting a “pause” on federal implementation of some of the Clean Power Plan, HF333 represents a good first step toward fully blocking unconstitutional EPA Clean Power Plan mandates. Passage would begin to place the process back in the hands of the state, thus diminishing the power of the federal agency. The legislation also sets the stage for more aggressive action in the future.The state legislature could simply refuse to approve any state plan, thereby denying any cooperation with the enforcement of EPA rules and regulations. This would nullify such rules and regulations in effect.
The bill must now pass out of the Ways and Means Committee before moving forward.