The Clean Power Plan will remain in effect while the court hears arguments on its merits, according to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, which today rejected efforts to put the carbon emissions rule on hold.
Since the EPA published the Clean Power Plan in late October, more than 20 energy companies, other businesses and industry organizations, along with 27 states, have filed lawsuits to block the rule, which requires existing coal-burning power plants to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The lawsuits also asked DC Circuit Court to issue a stay of implementation, which would mean the Clean Power Plan would not take effect until the Supreme Court ruled on its legality.
Last month, a coalition of states, companies and advocacy groups filed four briefs with the DC Circuit Court that asked the court to reject “speculative” arguments against the carbon rule for power plants. The coalition accused the states and businesses seeking to kill the rule of misrepresenting what the regulation does.
The Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to the case, says the coalition opposing the stay — that included attorneys general of 18 states and seven large cities, nine major power companies, clean energy companies, and public health and environmental organizations — will support the Clean Power Plan in the next phase of legal proceedings, when the court considers the merits of legal challenges to the rule.
National Association of Manufacturers senior vice president and general counsel Linda Kelly, said the court’s decision today “leaves manufacturers with continued uncertainty, unanswered legal questions and unknown costs. NAM is one of the industry groups that sued to block the Clean Power Plan from taking effect. “Our arguments are strong, the legality of the regulation is questionable, and we will continue to fight for pro-growth, pro-manufacturing regulations,” Kelly says.
The court has scheduled oral arguments for June 2.
Attorney James W. Rubin, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney who previously worked for the US Department of Justice, says this time frame means the court’s decision on the merits could happen as early as the end of the year.
“Not likely in time to avoid September 2016 filings but well before states would have to complete compliance plans,” Rubin says. “Note that the DC Circuit did not issue any opinion and so one cannot tell how the Court viewed the ultimate success of petitioners’ merits arguments.”
Photo Credit: coal-fired power plant via Shutterstock