We can finally declare the clean [power plan lawsuit dead

Source: By Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Four years and seven hours of oral arguments later, the D.C. Circuit has finally closed the door on the lawsuit over the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

The full panel of judges who heard marathon oral arguments over the power plant carbon limits in September 2016 ordered the lawsuit dismissed as moot Tuesday.

Republican and Democratic state attorneys general, utilities, industry trade groups, environmental groups, and more had been fighting over what to do with the Clean Power Plan lawsuit now that the Trump EPA officially repealed the rule and replaced it with its version.

The new EPA rule — known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule — sets much narrower limits for existing power plants, based solely on what facilities can achieve through efficiency improvements on site. The Obama administration’s rule went beyond that to also encourage utilities to switch from coal to natural gas and renewable energy, a step its critics say unlawfully stretched the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.

The legal issues live on: And not just in our hearts. Legal battle lines have already been drawn over the Affordable Clean Energy rule. The scope of the EPA’s authority to set greenhouse gas limits for power plants will be the core question judges will again grapple with in that lawsuit, just starting to make its way through the D.C. Circuit.