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Carbon Standards Benefit From Filibuster Ban

DC Circuit CourtProspects for carbon standards for new and existing power plants are looking stronger after the Senate passed a ban on filibusters for federal judge and executive office appointments.

That’s because President Obama’s three nominees for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (pictured) are now more likely to be confirmed. The circuit handles most legal challenges to regulations, and is likely to hear cases on the carbon standards. The EPA’s aggressive schedule for these standards is designed to get the rules cleared by the circuit court before Obama leaves office.

Four Democratic and four Republican appointees are currently serving as judges, the Washington Post reports.

According to Grist, the court’s docket already includes:

  • White Stallion Energy LLC et al v. EPA: The company is asking the court to strike down limits on mercury pollution from power plants.
  • National Association of Mining v. EPA: A lower court ruled that the agency had exceeded its authority in asking states to consider stream water conductivity levels when issuing mining permits.

The circuit’s balance of power is set to change markedly from recent years, when it struck down the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, now scheduled to appear before the Supreme Court.

The filibuster changes could also speed up appointments to the EPA, the Hill reports. In one striking example, Obama nominated Ken Kopocis to lead the EPA water office back in 2011 – and only now does he look likely to take up his office.

Takeaway: The filibuster changes improve prospects for a number of environmental regulations, most notably carbon standards for power plants – and the EPA sees this court-testing as a key hurdle for the rules before Obama leaves office in 2017.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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