Rule’s on ‘very firm’ legal footing — Obama

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, February 12, 2016

President Obama yesterday expressed confidence in the legal underpinning of his signature climate rule.

In his first public remarks since the Supreme Court froze the rule Tuesday, the president acknowledged the action by the high court was “unusual” but said that the rule would ultimately survive.

“In the last couple of days, I’ve heard people say, ‘The Supreme Court struck down the Clean Power rule.’ That’s not true, so don’t despair people,” he said, according to a White House press pool report from a Democratic fundraiser. “This is a legal decision that says, ‘Hold on until we review the legality.'”

He added, “We are very firm in terms of the legal footing here.”

In a 5-4 decision backed by its conservative wing, the Supreme Court halted the U.S. EPA rule — which is aimed at curbing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants — until litigation plays out. Experts say it’s the first time the high court has frozen a regulation before a lower court has ruled on its merits.

Dozens of challengers, including 27 states, are arguing that EPA has gone beyond its authority provided by the Clean Air Act.

The stay has thrown state planning efforts under the program in disarray, and opponents have speculated that the high court’s action signals that it will overturn the rule.

Obama expressed confidence the Clean Air Act gives EPA authority to issue the rule.

“The Supreme Court says [the Clean Air Act] requires the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions if we can show, as science has clearly shown, damage to public health,” Obama said.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said yesterday her agency, while respecting the Supreme Court’s decision, would forge ahead with actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (E&ENews PM, Feb. 11).

Obama also called for broad investment in wind and solar energy and battery technology while criticizing detractors.

“This [is] going to be an enormous generational challenge,” he said. “There are going to be people constantly pushing back and making sure we keep clinging to old dirty fuels and a carbon-emitting economic strategy that we need to be moving away from.”