SAVANNAH, Ga. — A multi-state group of lawmakers condemned the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan during a conference, narrowly averting a call for a mass revolt of sorts.

The Energy & Environment Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference voted unanimously Sunday during its annual meeting to support a legal challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority. Several states’ attorneys general have already said they will participate in a challenge.

A federal court in the District of Columbia last month tossed out an industry-led challenge because the judges said it must wait until the EPA files its final rule.

Critics of the plan say is designed to penalize states that produce coal and those that rely on it for electricity generation, which includes most of those in the South.

The lawmakers meeting in Savannah supported court action after accepting an amendment from Georgia Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, that watered down the original wording proposed by West Virginia Del. Rupert Phillips, a Democrat.

Phillips’ version said the conference “urges states to ‘say no’ to EPA’s overreach by refusing to submit Clean Power Plan implementation plans.”

Martin warned that the EPA would merely take over enforcement of the federal rule instead of relying on state agencies, as is the case on existing federal requirements. He said afterward that he was reluctant to ask other states to rebel.

“This body was not urging states to do that. It was recognizing that if states couldn’t get satisfaction, they might do that,” Martin said. “I was looking for a compromise — he clearly felt strong about his state doing that – without this group writing checks that the rest of the states would have to adhere to.”

The “say no” tactic is similar to the approach conservative legislatures used in refusing to expand eligibility for Medicaid in order to qualify for incentives from the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It’s a way of showing disagreement with federal policy, but it also represents a departure from decades of states’ willingness to use their own employees to enforce federal environmental, labor and welfare regulations. The traditional thinking was that state employees would be more flexible and accessible than federal officials.

Among the other resolutions passed by the committee was one to support current federal air-quality standards rather than stricter ones, and a resolution discouraging subsidization of solar power.

The five-day meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference includes 1,500 lawmakers from 15 states and about that many staff and lobbyists.

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