24 states line up to block Obama's Clean Power Plan

President Obama's climate change plan has run up against some serious opposition among 24 states that are challenging it in federal court.

On Friday 24 states filed a lawsuit in Washington, DC claiming that the EPA over-reached its authority by demanding that, as part of the Clean Power Plan, states lower their carbon emissions. The suit is being led by West Virginia, a key coal-producing state. Other states challenging the plan include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

Under the plan, new rules require that states lower their carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The regulations could mean some coal-fired power plants will have to shut down in order to meet the limits.

NBC News reports all but two of the states in the suit are led by Republicans. The legal challenge is being accompanied by other lawsuits, from Murray Energy Corp and the National Mining Association, a lobby group.

"The Clean Power Plan is one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in this nation's history," NBC quotes West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, among those leading the challenges. "I have a responsibility to protect the lives of millions of working families, the elderly and the poor, from such illegal and unconscionable federal government actions."

“The immediacy of substantial harm from this power plant rule is plain from EPA’s own data that show it will cause more than 200 coal-fired power plants to close before courts have time to decide the legality of the rule,” Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, said in a statement.

On the other side of the issue, 15 states plus the District of Columbia are backing the Obama administration and will start complying with the new rules, according to NBC.

On Friday EPA administrator Gina McCarthy defended the climate change plan, saying in a statement, “The Clean Power Plan has strong scientific and legal foundations, provides states with broad flexibilities to design and implement plans, and is clearly within EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act."

The Clean Power Plan, made public in June 2014, is a centrepiece of the Obama administration's climate change strategy. It is also the first time in U.S. history that a President imposed limits on power plant emissions, which could transform a sector that currently relies on coal for nearly 38 percent of electricity.