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New York Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A group of 29 states and local governments on Tuesday filed suit against the Trump administration's move to replace Obama-era climate rules for power plants with a more modest alternative.

Why it matters: The litigation, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, sets the stage for a new federal court battle over the scope of regulators' authority and duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

  • It's a dispute that could affect how aggressively a future president can impose emissions-cutting rules on power plants, and perhaps other facilities like oil refineries.

The big picture: In June, the EPA announced final rules that require states to make coal-fired units more efficient over time, but the rules lack binding CO2-cutting targets.

  • Trump's rules replaced a wider 2015 regulation that sought to drive more sweeping power sector changes by enabling states to meet carbon-cutting mandates by moving to lower-emitting and zero-carbon sources.
  • That Obama-era mandate never took effect because it was stayed by the Supreme Court.

"My office, and this groundbreaking coalition of states and cities from across the nation, will fight back against this unlawful, do-nothing rule in order to protect our future from catastrophic climate change," James said in a statement.

Why you'll hear about this again: The disputes over the Obama administration rule and the Trump EPA's replacement center in part on whether the EPA, under the Clean Air Act, can promote broad changes to the electricity system that go beyond emissions from specific plants.

  • Trump administration officials, when rolling out their "Affordable Clean Energy" rule in June, argued that Obama's EPA went beyond its Clean Air Act authority.

The new litigation was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The EPA told Axios in a statement: "EPA does not comment on pending litigation. In regards to ACE, EPA worked diligently to ensure we produced a solid rule, that we believe will be upheld in the courts, unlike the previous Administration’s Clean Power Plan."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: The LCV's $4M ad buy

A screenshot from a new League of Conservation Voters ad supporting Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power are aiming another $4 million worth of ads at centrist House Democrats, urging them to support the climate provisions in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Progressive groups are trying to counter the onslaught of conservative money pouring into swing districts. Both sides are trying to define Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and pressure lawmakers to support — or oppose — the legislation scheduled for a vote in the House this week.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Shutdown Plan B

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate will hold a futile vote Monday night — just 72 hours before a potential shutdown — on a House-passed bill to fund the government through Dec. 3 and raise the debt limit.

Why it matters: The bill is going to fail. Period. But then comes Plan B: A "clean" continuing resolution — stripped of language about raising the debt limit — that Democrats spent the past week preparing, Axios is told.

Glenn Youngkin's play: Forever- and Never-Trumpers

Glenn Youngkin in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on Friday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Standing on a flatbed hitched to a John Deere tractor in red Rockingham County, Virginia, Glenn Youngkin decried California liberalism and bashed his rival, Terry McAuliffe. He also encouraged early voting. Two words he avoided: Donald Trump.

Driving the news: Youngkin, the Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee, is mounting a serious challenge to McAuliffe — a former governor and veteran of Democratic politics. Axios caught up with him on Friday in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

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