Courts Save EPA’s Global Warming Rule … For Now

(Flickr photo by Tori Rector

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Federal judges refused Thursday to put a stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s sweeping regulation to fight global warming.

The D.C. Court of Appeals’ ruling, however, will not stop the 26 states challenging President Barack Obama’s signature global warming rule from appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep it from being implemented.

“We are disappointed in today’s decision, but believe we will ultimately prevail in court,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement on the court’s’ ruling, adding that he would consider appealing to the Supreme Court for a stay on the rule.

Federal judges ruled against Morrisey’s coalition of states challenging the EPA’s rule. A panel of three judges said the deadline for states to comply with the EPA regulation is so far off, they don’t need to block the rule from being implemented while it’s being challenged in court.

Environmentalists who support the EPA’s rule called the ruling a “huge win.” Activists say the ruling means states will to work to comply with federal rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But the court’s ruling is only a temporary victory for environmentalists. Federal judges did not rule on the merits of the challenge, and states believe they will ultimately be successful on that front.

“The court did not issue a ruling on the merits and we remain confident that our arguments will prevail as the case continues,” Morrisey said. “We are pleased, however, that the court has agreed to expedite hearing the case.”

Opponents say states should not commit to going along with the EPA until a court has decided if the rule is legal or not.

“If the DC Circuit is not going to protect the American people from EPA’s overreach, it’s all the more important for state leaders to do so,” Tom Pyle, president of the free market American Energy Alliance, said in a statement. “The court’s decision doesn’t change the fact that states should not prematurely make commitments under these carbon regulations.”

EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) aims to cut CO2 emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030 by forcing states to come up with ways to cut emissions. The rule is expected to force coal-fired power plants across the country to prematurely retire, further crippling the coal industry.

Republicans and pro-energy groups have vehemently opposed the rule and even urged states not to submit an emissions reduction plan to the EPA until courts have decided whether or not the CPP violates the Clean Air Act.

“Doing so would send their citizens down a path toward higher electricity costs and fewer jobs, regardless of whether or not the rule is ultimately thrown out in court,” Pyle said. “State leaders should remain steadfast in their opposition to this unlawful regulation.”

Coal industry-backed studies claim the CPP could cost $366 billion over the next 15 years and severely cripple coal mining operations across the country.

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