States seek court delay in enforcement of Clean Power Plan

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of 25 states opposing President Obama's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to stop the new regulations from taking effect until after their legal challenge is resolved.

West Virginia and Texas led the group of mostly Republican states that asked Chief Justice John Roberts to immediately bar the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing the Clean Power Plan. Roberts can consider the application on his own or refer it to the full court.

The move came after an appeals court in Washington last week denied a similar request, handing a procedural victory to the Obama administration.

The federal plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030. The plan also encourages more development of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar by further ratcheting down any emissions allowed from new coal-fired power.

Arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are set to begin June 2. Under the Clean Air Act, certain challenges to new EPA rules skip the federal district court and go directly to the appeals court.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey warned that it could take six months or more to decide the case at the appellate level, perhaps stretching into 2017.

"Without Supreme Court intervention, West Virginia and other states will suffer irreparable harm as job creators and state agencies spend untold resources to comply with a rule that is likely to be struck down as illegal," Morrisey said Tuesday. "Real people are hurting in West Virginia and it's my job to fight for them."

Like West Virginia and Texas, many of the states opposing the plan are dependent on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas.

Implementation of the rules is considered essential to the United States meeting emissions-reduction targets in a global climate agreement signed in Paris last month. The Obama administration and environmental groups also say the plan will spur new clean-energy jobs.

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