Congress is no longer content passing bills to repeal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, and more than 200 mostly Republican lawmakers have signed onto a legal brief asking federal judges to strike down the agency’s global warming rule.
“Congress has not authorized EPA to make the central policy choices in the [Clean Power Plan] and, in many respects, has affirmatively rejected those policies, as it certainly did with respect to cap-and-trade programs for CO2 emissions from power plants,” reads the legal brief filed by 34 senators and 171 federal representatives Tuesday.
The lawmakers’ brief comes two weeks after the Supreme Court issued a stay against the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) — a regulatory scheme aimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 32 percent by 2030.
Lawmakers have sided with 27 states and a coalition of businesses and unions suing the EPA over the rule. Opponents argue the CPP will strip states of their power to design their own energy policies and raise electricity prices.
“American workers and their families will experience the hardship of job losses due to power plant shutdowns, higher electricity prices, and overall diminishment of the nation’s global economic competitiveness. Choices of this nature are inherently Congressional decisions,” lawmakers argued in their brief.
The Supreme Court reversed a decision by a lower court not to halt implementation of the CPP. The EPA and its environmentalist allies argued striking down the CPP could derail international commitments made by President Barack Obama to fight global warming.
In December, the U.S. joined nearly 200 countries in pledging to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming. Obama promised to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025. The CPP is a key part of Obama’s strategy to meet this pledge.
But the EPA is not taking the Supreme Court decision lying down. The agency is still encouraging states to voluntarily comply with the rule, despite the court order. EPA officials also argue the CPP will withstand legal challenges.
“Are we going to respect the decision of the Supreme Court? You bet, of course we are,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told utility executives in February. “But it doesn’t mean it’s the only thing we’re working on and it doesn’t mean we won’t continue to support any state that voluntarily wants to move forward.”
In light of all this, lawmakers have decided to weigh in against the EPA in the hopes they can sway judges to strike down the rule.
“EPA can point to no statement of congressional authorization for the [CPP’s] central features, precisely because there is none,” the lawmakers wrote. “Nor has Congress authorized EPA to make the policy choices that are reflected in the [CPP]—a rule that imposes enormous costs on States and the public without achieving meaningful climate benefits.”
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