Green groups jump into legal donnybrook

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2015

U.S. EPA’s allies are jumping into the mammoth lawsuit over the Obama administration’s plans to slash greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Environmentalists, public health groups and business groups who back the administration’s Clean Power Plan are asking a federal court to allow them to defend EPA as the agency’s critics look to topple the rule. Since the regulation opened up to lawsuits last week, opponents including 26 states and a broad array of industry and labor groups have challenged the rule in court.

Today, a coalition of nine green and public health groups asked the court to allow them to defend EPA in court. The groups are the American Lung Association, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Clean Air Council, Clean Wisconsin, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Ohio Environmental Council and Sierra Club.

“The organizations are committed to protecting their members and others from the impacts of dangerous air pollution from existing power plants, including climate change and other harms to public health and welfare,” the groups said in their motion. “Delay, weakening, or invalidation of the Clean Power Plan would harm the organizations’ members by exacerbating the impacts of climate change.”

In addition to backing EPA in the lawsuit challenging the agency’s rules for existing power plants, the green groups are also asking the court to allow them to weigh in on a lawsuit challenging rules that set greenhouse gas limits for new and modified power plants.

Several energy groups have also asked to come to EPA’s defense in the lawsuit challenging standards for existing plants.

The American Wind Energy Association yesterday asked the court for permission to intervene.

“The rule is projected to drive significant investments in renewable energy (in particular, wind energy), and as a result, AWEA’s and its members’ activities and businesses would be adversely affected by a reversal, weakening, delay, or inadequate implementation of the Clean Power Plan,” the association wrote.

The business group Advanced Energy Economy also filed a motion asking to back EPA. The group’s members include providers of energy services and products related to natural gas, wind, solar and nuclear power; energy efficiency technologies; smart grid technologies; and advanced transportation systems.

“Because AEE’s members are directly involved in low- and zero-emission power generation and the provision of technologies and services that reduce energy demand, they stand to benefit substantially from an increase in demand for clean-power sources and energy efficiency,” they wrote.

Several states have also promised to have EPA’s back in the lawsuit. Earlier this year, a coalition of attorneys general pledged to oppose efforts to undo the rule in court. Those EPA allies included the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and the city of New York.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said last week that the same coalition expects to intervene in the case this week.

“My office is prepared to join with our partners to aggressively defend EPA’s Clean Power Plan — rules that will significantly reduce climate change pollution nationally,” Schneiderman said.