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Judge dismisses Nebraska lawsuit against EPA

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A federal judge dismissed Nebraska's lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency over greenhouse gas standards for new power plants, saying the lawsuit "jumped the gun."

The EPA's proposed rule would set limits on the amount of carbon dioxide new plants will be allowed to emit, essentially requiring any new coal plants to install expensive carbon-capture technology. The rule has drawn strong criticism from many Republicans, especially in conservative states such as Nebraska.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning filed the lawsuit in January, saying "the impossible standards imposed by the EPA will ensure no new power plants are built in Nebraska."

But on Monday, U.S. District Judge John Gerrard granted the EPA's request to dismiss the case, saying Nebraska "jumped the gun" with the lawsuit, because the EPA rule has not been finalized.

Bruning, a Republican, had argued that the proposed EPA rule would hurt Nebraska businesses and overstepped the federal agency's authority.

The lawsuit said the EPA is barred by a provision in the federal 2005 Energy Policy Act from creating a clean air regulation like the one it has proposed based solely on emission-capturing technology developed through federal funding at coal-burning power plants.

Bruning's lawsuit said the EPA did just that, by basing the proposed rule on technology developed at three power plants — in Mississippi, Texas and California — that received a total of $2.5 billion in federal grants and tax credits.

"Making environmental regulations is difficult and complicated enough without having federal judges weigh in at every step along the way, Gerrard said in dismissing the suit.

Bruning said through his office's spokeswoman Tuesday that his office is "reviewing the order and exploring our options for appeal."


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