Kansas on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), challenging new regulations that the state says will require utilities to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new emissions control equipment before Jan. 1, 2012— a timeline the state’s utilities say is impossible to meet

Kansas is challenging the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), a rule finalized by the EPA this summer and which is intended to prevent air pollution from states like Kansas from contributing to air-quality problems in downwind states in the northeast. The state was one of two additions to the program—the other being Texas—when the EPA finalized the new rules. The state was included based on findings that showed the state’s power plants were making it harder for Holland, Mich., and other areas to meet air quality standards.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed the lawsuit in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. “The EPA gave Kansas only five months to make major changes to the way electricity is generated in our state,” Schmidt said. “It will be physically impossible for all of our utilities to comply, which means that either Kansans will be paying higher rates to buy out-of-state electricity or there simply will not be enough electricity to meet Kansas demand after the first of the year. Neither of those is an acceptable option.”

In the suit, Schmidt said the state disputes the EPA’s analysis of Kansas emissions levels, overestimating the state’s contribution to downwind air quality. “The rushed implementation of the new rule will needlessly add millions of dollars of costs to Kansas utilities,” he said. “Those costs will be passed through to Kansas consumers in the form of higher electricity rates and also will divert resources from investments in the utilities’ existing long-term pollution control plans.”

The state joins other entities in Kansas that have challenged EPA rules, including Westar Energy, the state’s largest utility, the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, and the unified government of Wyandotte County.

Kansas is the first state to challenge the EPA’s CSAPR rule. Industry sources say Texas—which has sparred with the EPA on several other rules—will also soon file suit.

Sources: POWERnews, Kansas Attorney General’s Office