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Panel drops plan to hire consultant on EPA rules

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 17, 2014 at 6:21 pm •  Published: June 17, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana utility regulators dropped a proposal Tuesday to spend $3,000 to hire a former University of Montana law professor known for his conservative views to point out any constitutional problems with proposed federal regulations to reduce carbon dioxide pollution from power plants.

Public Service Commission member Roger Koopman said he believes the proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations are an overreach of federal power, but he doesn't specifically know how.

Robert Natelson, who specializes in constitutional law at a Colorado-based think tank, would help educate commissioners as the commission considers responding to the EPA plan, Koopman said.

"Ultimately, we are not required as public servants and as commissioners to enforce unconstitutional law. I feel that very strongly, and I think that's the kind of thing that will be an interesting question for Professor Natelson to address," Koopman said.

Natelson, now a senior fellow at the Independence Institute, ran twice for Montana governor as a Republican, was active in conservative politics and won a grievance filed against the University of Montana to teach constitutional law there.

Koopman withdrew the proposal when he saw it wasn't going to be approved. Two other commissioners said constitutional questions are best left for the attorney general, while Chairman Bill Gallagher said he was "conflicted" over the idea to hire Natelson.

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