Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Appeals court rejects lawsuit against emissions rules, says they are unable to rule on a proposal

A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit by energy companies and states against the Obama administration's proposed rules to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants 30 percent by 2030, saying the court can't review a regulation that hasn't been finalized, Timothy Cama reports for The Hill.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, wrote: “They want us to do something that they candidly acknowledge we have never done before: review the legality of a proposed rule. But a proposed rule is just a proposal. In justiciable cases, this Court has authority to review the legality of final agency rules. We do not have authority to review proposed agency rules.” Judge Karen Henderson, who agreed with the ruling, disagreed with Kavanaugh's statement, writing in a separate opinion that the court could have ruled on the proposal if it wanted to.

"Murray Energy Corp. led a coalition of energy companies in challenging the rule, arguing that the Clean Air Act does not allow the regulation of carbon dioxide from power plants since other emissions from those plants are already regulated," Cama writes. "West Virginia led 15 states that also challenged the rule, and the cases were combined."

While advocates for the proposed rules chalked the decision up as an early victory, opponents of the rules said they expected the decision, Cama writes. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told Cama, "When we filed this case last summer, we knew there would be procedural challenges, but given the clearly illegal nature of the rule and the real harm occurring in West Virginia and throughout the country, we believed it was necessary to take all available action to stop this rule as soon as possible. We believe that the litigation has further revealed the weakness of EPA’s arguments on the merits.” (Read more)

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