WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 200 members of Congress are backing a court challenge to President Barack Obama's plan to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

A brief filed Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington argues that the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its legal authority and defied the will of Congress by regulating carbon dioxide emissions.

Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., those signing on include Republican presidential candidates and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Of the 34 senators and 171 House members listed, Sen. Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia is the lone Democrat.

Other signers include Nebraska Rep. Adrian Smith, Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer and Iowa Rep. Steve King.

"If Congress desired to give EPA sweeping authority to transform the nation's electricity sector, Congress would have provided for that unprecedented power in detailed legislation," the brief says.

The White House downplayed the lawmakers' brief, describing it as part of "continual pushback from obstructionist Republicans in Congress who don't even believe in the science of climate change."

"We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits when the plan gets it full day in court," said White House spokesman Frank Benenati.

About two dozen mostly GOP-led states, including Nebraska, have sued to stop the Clean Power Plan, which aims to slow climate change by cutting power-plant emissions by one-third by 2030.

Iowa did not join in the challenge.

The Supreme Court last month barred the Obama administration from beginning implementation of the plan until the legal challenges are resolved.

Argument of the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is set to begin June 2.

Under the Clean Air Act, certain challenges to new EPA rules skip the federal district court and go directly to the appeals court. Regardless of which side prevails, further appeal to the Supreme Court is almost certain, pushing any final decision into at least 2017.

Implementation of the new emissions rules is considered essential to the United States' meeting carbon-reduction targets in a global climate agreement signed in Paris in December.

Obama's plan also encourages more development of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar by further ratcheting down any emissions allowed from new coal-fired power plants, which the administration and environmental groups say the plan will spur new clean-energy jobs.

Under the Clean Power Plan, Nebraska, which relies heavily on coal to generate electricity, would have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 40 percent.

World-Herald staff writer Joseph Morton contributed to this report.

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