EDF Calls on Court to Reject Indefinite Delay of Clean Power Plan Litigation

October 17, 2017
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – October 17, 2017) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and a coalition of public health and environmental groups went to court today to prevent an indefinite delay of the litigation over the Clean Power Plan.

The groups filed a response with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, asking the court to deny the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) request for that delay. They also asked the court to issue a decision on the merits in the Clean Power Plan case. 

In a separate filing, a coalition of 17 states and seven municipalities also urged the court to reject EPA’s delay tactics.

“Communities across America are already suffering from more severe hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and other devastating effects of climate change. We can’t afford any delay in responding to this urgent threat,” said Tomás Carbonell, Directory of Regulator Policy and Lead Attorney for Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to the case. “Yet Administrator Pruitt is trying to abandon our nation’s only limits on climate-destabilizing pollution from power plants, and is seeking indefinite delay in the courts to avoid moving forward on common sense solutions to climate change.” 

EPA’s request for indefinite abeyance, or delay, was filed on the same day that Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan – which would eliminate the only nationwide limit on the largest industrial source of climate pollution in the U.S. The requested delay would extend until the agency completes its rulemaking process, and the agency has not announced a timeframe for that process.

Pruitt has proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan based on a dubious objection to EPA’s approach to establishing emissions reduction targets, which relies on common sense measures (such as switching to cleaner forms of generation) that power companies have been using for decades to reduce pollution. As today’s filing points out, Pruitt’s theory has already been briefed and argued before the court.   

Pruitt has not committed to providing any replacement for the Clean Power despite the fact that, as two judges of the D.C. Circuit emphasized in response to his last request, EPA has an “affirmative statutory obligation” to protect Americans from climate pollution.

The D.C. Circuit heard oral argument over the Clean Power Plan more than a year ago, in September 2016. Pruitt’s EPA has repeatedly requested indefinite abeyance while it considered whether to roll back the Clean Power Plan. Instead, the court ordered two temporary periods of abeyance, both of which have now expired. 

EDF and its allies have consistently urged the court to rule on the merits in the litigation – the outcome that Pruitt is seeking to avoid through indefinite delay.

The Clean Power Plan is the single largest step the U.S. has ever taken to address the threat of climate change. It would reduce greenhouse gases from the power sector to 32 percent below 2005 levels – and save up to 3,600 lives, prevent up to 90,000 childhood asthma attacks, and avoid more than 300,000 missed school and work days each year. 

Pruitt’s proposed repeal would deprive Americans of this vital safeguard for our health and climate, and employs underhanded maneuvers to conceal the true impacts of his proposal. In the proposed repeal, even EPA acknowledges that the pollution reductions achieved under the Clean Power Plan would have protected children’s health (see page 48048).

You can find more information – including all legal documents in the case – on EDF’s website.

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