U.S. policy in turmoil as Bonn climate summit approaches
The future of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is still up in the air, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has put a hold on legal proceeding pending the new administration’s review. The Clean Power Plan developed under the Obama administration would require modest cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants with the goal of meeting global targets to cap global warming.
“This decision is disappointing but still leaves key issues about the future of the Clean Power Plan to be resolved,” said David Doniger, director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We will continue to fight in the D.C. Circuit and in the court of public opinion to ensure that the government fulfills its legal obligation to protect the public from climate change.
Environmental advocates are certain the plan has solid legal footing and that it will prevail. The U.S. Supreme Court has already decided that greenhouse gases can be regulated by the EPA. The only real question is how the agency will do that. As it stands now, if the Clean Power Plan is rejected, the government will have to find some other way to control carbon pollution.
“We remain confident this landmark plan stands on solid legal ground. And we’ll keep fighting to bring it into full effect. We can’t wait any longer to start cutting the dangerous carbon pollution driving climate change and accelerating the clean energy economy that will protect future generations,” Doniger said.
The new ruling last week wasn’t a total loss because the court set a 60 deadline for the parties to submit new briefs on whether the case should be remanded to the EPA, which had asked the court to put the plan on hold indefinitely. That would have enabled the EPA to kill the Clean Power Plan without following the rule of law, and without having to defend its action in public or in court.
The court didn’t buy that. It put the case on hold for only 60 days and asked for new briefs. Depending on what happens at the next stage of proceedings, the Clean Power Plan could be put back into force, like any other rule, until and unless EPA changes it following the rule of law.