D.C. Circuit Court denies suits challenging EPA’s proposed emissions rule

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — on Tuesday — denied two lawsuits challenging the Obama administration's plan to address climate change because the proposed rule — that would require states to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030  — has yet to be finalized.  

"They want us to do something that they candidly acknowledge we have never done before,” said Judge Brett Kavanaugh. "We do not have authority to review proposed agency rules."

The two lawsuits were filed by a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from 15 states, led by West Virginia; and Murray Energy Corp., the nation's largest privately-held coal mining company. The lawsuits claim that the EPA exceeded its authority last year when it proposed the plan to reduce emissions from the existing coal-fired power plants. Opponents argued that the plan will force coal companies to shut down plants, reduce thousands of jobs and drive up power prices. Additionally, the parties stated that the EPA already regulates other power plant pollutants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.  

“Although we wish the judges’ decision was different, we are not surprised and look forward to our next day in court. That the court even took a look at these suits before the rules were final was an unprecedented step and demonstrates that EPA’s regulatory overreach has caught the eye of the court,” said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of ACCCE.  “States and industry are already working to ensure that when the rule is final we are prepared to step-in and stop the implementation of these devastating regulations. EPA’s regulations will significantly increase electricity costs for those who can afford it the least. If the regulations are not going to be withdrawn by the agency, they must be thrown out by the courts.  We are hopeful once the rule is final and we have a chance to argue the merits of the case a court will do just that; throw out EPA's overreaching, calamitous plan."

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said agency officials expect a final rule by mid-summer.

The states challenging the EPA plan are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

There are 13 states and the District of Columbia that have announced support for the proposed rule; while officials from 32 states say that the EPA is overstepping its legal authority.

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