LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's U.S. senators and its five Republican congressmen joined Monday in a legal fight before the U.S. Supreme Court, filing a brief that challenges environmental regulations on coal-fired power plants.
The "friend of the court" brief says the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority. The brief was filed in a case that's an outgrowth of a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that cleared the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under its authority to control air pollutants.
Signing the brief were Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Reps. Hal Rogers, Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie and Andy Barr. Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas also joined the brief.
McConnell said the EPA misused the 2007 ruling and subsequent regulations on automobiles to overregulate coal-fired power plants.
"The EPA should not have used the 'Tailpipe Rule' to further regulate coal-fired power plants," said McConnell, calling it "another EPA power grab."
McConnell is facing a tough re-election campaign next year, and coal mining — a major industry in Kentucky —has become a central issue in the Senate race. He has made the EPA and President Barack Obama his main targets when talking to voters.
Kentucky's coal industry, facing decreased demand for its product and more stringent environmental restrictions, has been in a prolonged economic slump. Several thousand miners in the state have lost their jobs over the past two years.
Paul, who is considering a run for president in 2016, accused the EPA of an "overzealous, anti-coal agenda."
"The ability to create laws is the purview of Congress and the EPA has clearly overstepped its authority," he said. "In doing so, accountability has been thrown out the window."
Oral arguments in the case are set for Feb. 24.