The Environmental Protection Agency published its far-reaching Clean Power Plan in the federal register today—and 24 states promptly filed lawsuits challenging it, claiming the agency has grossly exceeded its authority. Republican lawmakers have also vowed to fight the regulation in Congress.

The Clean Power Plan mandates a 32 percent decrease in carbon emissions from 2005 levels over the next 15 years. This draconian requirement will carry huge economic costs; National Economic Research Associates estimated that an earlier version of the regulation, which suggested a lower level of carbon cuts, impose compliance costs of up to $479 billion by 2030, also prompting double-digit electricity rate hikes in all but seven states.

The Hill reports:

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), who is leading the legal fight against the plan, called it “the single most onerous and illegal regulations that we’ve seen coming out of D.C. in a long time.”

On a call with reporters, Morrisey repeated many of the long-held arguments against the rule: that it will hurt his state’s coal mining industry, raise power rates for consumers and risk electricity reliability.

“EPA’s rule is flatly illegal and one of the most aggressive executive branch power grabs we’ve seen in a long time,” he said. “The EPA cannot do what it intends to do legally.”

Morrissey said he wants the court to rule on a stay “as soon as possible.” He noted it took a federal judge about a month to delay an EPA water regulation earlier this month, and said that could be a “guidepost” for how long litigation might take. 

… The West Virginia and Murray lawsuits came the day the rule was published in the Federal Register, the first day court challenges can legally be filed.

The states joining West Virginia are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Arizona and North Carolina.

The Supreme Court has ruled twice in recent years that the EPA acted outside of regulatory bounds. The Clean Power Plan is yet another instance of the agency radically reinterpreting existing legislation to impose regulations that would never win Congressional approval.

But as the fate of the Clean Power Plan hinges on distant court decisions, states and the private sector alike will hedge their bets, making changes that may prove tough to reverse. A legal victory against the Clean Power Plan, unless prompt, may prove Pyrrhic.