EPA allies assail ‘meritless’ legal challenges

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2016

U.S. EPA’s allies in state governments, the environmental community and industry are urging federal judges to reject the onslaught of legal challenges against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

Tuesday marks a deadline set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for some of EPA’s backers to file their briefs as judges weigh the fate of the contentious regulation to curb power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions.

A coalition of states and cities led by New York state told the court that arguments made by rule opponents were “meritless.” The Clean Power Plan, they said, “is a reasonable and legitimate exercise of EPA’s authority to limit harmful carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants.”

The states backing EPA in the lawsuit are New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. The District of Columbia and several cities and counties also signed onto the brief.

“Absent meaningful federal regulation like the [Clean Power Plan],” states “may be unable to obtain needed reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants located in other states,” they told the court. “This court should reject petitioners’ meritless challenges to the rule.”

Twenty-eight other states, led by West Virginia and numerous other groups, including industry and labor organizations, are suing over the rule. The Supreme Court put the Clean Power Plan on hold while the litigation plays out in the D.C. Circuit.

Yesterday, EPA filed its brief defending the rule (EnergyWire, March 29).

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) issued a statement today criticizing the rule, which he called an “unlawful power grab of epic proportions.”

Morrisey said, “As the West Virginia Attorney General, I will strongly oppose efforts by anyone to bully job producers into compliance with this illegal and unprecedented regulation.”

Environmentalists and industry groups that support EPA’s regulation — including some renewable energy industries and utilities — were also facing a deadline to file their briefs with the court today.

On a conference call this afternoon, greens assailed the arguments made by EPA’s challengers, noting that they expect the D.C. Circuit to uphold the regulation.

“It is not a radical rule,” said Sean Donahue, an attorney representing environmental intervenors in the case.

Click here to read the pro-CPP states and cities’ brief.

Click here to read the renewable energy industry groups’ brief.

Click here to read the pro-CPP utilities’ brief.

Click here to read the brief from environmentalists and public health groups.