Whitfield, industry play down judges’ refusal to block rule

Source: George Cahlink, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, January 25, 2016

Opponents of the Obama’s administration Clean Power Plan downplayed a federal court decision yesterday that failed to block the rule while a legal challenge proceeds, saying they still expect to eventually halt the proposal for curbing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said he was “disappointed” that the court did not stay the plan until legal arguments are heard later this year. But the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power chairman added, “The issues remain — the administration’s cap-and-trade plan will increase the cost of electricity and threaten grid reliability around the country.”

Whitfield said he will continue to raise questions in congressional hearings about CPP and is watching the court challenge closely.

Industry opponents, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers, also shrugged off the court ruling and said they are focused on quickly getting a final decision.

Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, said the court’s decision to deny the stay is only about process, not the merits of the case. She added that it “indicates that the court agrees that it is important to review the rules quickly.”

Linda Kelly, NAM senior vice president and general counsel, said the ruling continues “uncertainty” for manufacturers but will not affect the case that two dozen states and scores of industry opponents of CPP plan to make in court.

“Our arguments are strong, the legality of the regulation is questionable, and we will continue to fight for pro-growth, pro-manufacturing regulations,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who heads the Senate Climate Change Clearinghouse and backs the administration’s effort, said the court ruling is a “significant blow” to CPP opponents. He said it will allow states to continue developing implementation plans even as the court battles play out.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit announced yesterday that it wants the case to proceed quickly, with initial briefs filed by April 15 and final briefs filed by April 22. Oral arguments are scheduled for June 2 (E&ENews PM, Jan. 21).

While legal experts predict a decision could come from the appeals court late in 2016 or early in 2017, the case is widely expected to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Reporter Geof Koss contributed.