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Bondi joins lawsuit challenging EPA rule on interstate air pollution

Attorney General Pam Bondi joined a Nebraska lawsuit Friday that challenges an Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring 27 states to reduce power plant emissions that lead to air pollution in other states.

The EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule on July 6, replacing a similarly named 2005 policy. It goes into effect in January barring action by the courts. Republicans in Congress have made reducing environmental regulations a priority recently, saying they kill jobs.

State leaders argue the rule is unrealistic and creates a headache for states and businesses strained by tight budgets. Bondi is concerned the rule does not give states the chance to reduce emissions on their own, uses "questionable methodologies and modeling" in assesing how other states are affected by interstate air pollution, and disproportionately affects Florida.

"Once again the EPA has imposed costly regulations on Florida based on a flawed process and without first working cooperatively with our state," Bondi said in a statement. "We will continue to protect Florida consumers and businesses from unnecessary and costly federal regulation."

Nebraska and Florida are joined on the petition for review by five states: Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Virginia. The lawsuit is filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. Kansas filed its own lawsuit earlier this week.

To comply with the rule, Nebraskan power producers would need to retrofit coal plants to control 1 percent of emissions that travel upwind to Wisonsin, according to a news release from the state's Attorney General's office.

Nebraska officials claimed implementing the policy would cost two state utilities more than $60 million. Those costs would likely lead to higher utility bills for Nebraska energy consumers, especially those in agriculture.

The news comes on the heels of Tampa Bay being named the second smoggiest metropolitan area in Florida, trailing Pensacola, according to a Friday St. Petersburg Times story.