Thursday, April 16, 2015

Legal battle begins today over proposed rules for cutting CO2 emissions 30% by 2030

The legal battle begins today over President Obama's proposed rules to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030 from existing power plants based on emission levels from 2005, Coral Davenport reports for The New York Times. "In two separate but related cases to be jointly argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the country’s two largest coal companies, along with 14 coal-producing states," have challenged the proposed rules, fearing that if put into effect, it will shutter hundreds of coal plants in favor of expanding renewable energy sources. Thirteen states and Washington, D.C., back the proposed rules. (National Conference of State Legislatures map)
In the cases, Murray Energy vs. EPA and West Virginia vs. EPA, "the plaintiffs contend that EPA lacks the authority to issue the rule in the first place and so should stop working on the rule before making it final," Davenport writes. "No matter the outcome of the case, it is widely expected that it will be appealed and that more lawsuits will follow—and that its fate will ultimately end up before the Supreme Court."

"Legal experts say it is also possible that the judges could throw the case out since the rule has only been proposed and thus contains language that could change when released in the final form," Davenport writes.

"If the court does entertain the case, it will enter into more unusual legal territory," Davenport writes. "The coal companies and the E.P.A. dispute the interpretation of ambiguously worded amendments to the Clean Air Act passed in 1990. Under those amendments, legal experts say, it is not clear whether EPA has the authority to use one section of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from power plants since the agency has already used a different section of the law to regulate different pollutants from power plants."

"In arguing that it has the authority to regulate different pollutants from the same sources, the EPA will point to the 1990 Senate language," Davenport writes. "In arguing that the agency lacks the authority, the coal companies will point to the House language," which "appeared to prohibit such 'double regulation,' experts say, but the Senate version appeared to allow it. The final version of the legislation left the question unclear."

The three judges hearing the case were all appointed by Republican presidents, one by President H.W. Bush and two by President George W. Bush. (Read more)

No comments: