No plan B if court blocks rule — McCarthy

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, January 8, 2016

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said she has no “plan B” in case the courts block the agency’s Clean Power Plan during litigation as challengers have requested.

Speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations event in Washington, McCarthy expressed faith in the legal underpinnings of the rule and said her focus was instead on working with states to craft compliance plans due in September.

“Plan A’s a good one, and I don’t want anything to think it isn’t,” McCarthy said when asked whether she had a backup plan for a stay. “I think we’ll get through the stay soon.”

McCarthy also called the Clean Power Plan “our shot” to use the Clean Air Act to address the power sector’s carbon footprint.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan, finalized in August, requires states to develop plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

Almost 150 opponents, including 27 states, have challenged the rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. States and industries have asked the court to immediately halt the rule while the legal issues play out (Greenwire, Jan. 4).

Appeals court judges will likely hand down a ruling on the stay request within the next few weeks. If they do block the rule, it would likely slow state efforts to shape compliance plans.

“I think we all are confident that we’ll meet the legal test there,” McCarthy said.

She added, “There’s no reason, no damage to warrant a stay that any of us can identify.”

McCarthy said she was further confident that states would be able to meet the Clean Power Plan’s September deadline.

That month, states have to either submit initial plans laying out how they will achieve emission reduction targets or demonstrate progress toward that goal.

“I’ve been to many meetings, and I’m seeing nothing but really actually positive energy around this,” McCarthy said.