EDF Urges D.C. Circuit to Continue Judicial Review of the Clean Power Plan

April 5, 2017
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – April 5, 2017) Environmental Defense Fund and a broad, diverse coalition of public health and environmental organizations today asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to continue its review of vital safeguards that address the threat of climate change and protect the health of American families.

The coalition filed a brief today opposing the Trump Administration’s efforts to delay judicial review of the Clean Power Plan.

“Delaying these urgently-needed pollution reductions would harm the health and well-being of communities across the nation,” said Tomás Carbonell, Director of Regulatory Policy and Lead Attorney for Environmental Defense Fund. “The D.C. Circuit has already invested an extraordinary amount of time and resources in the Clean Power Plan case – an expedited briefing, a nearly seven-hour argument in front of ten judges, and six months of consideration since then. There is absolutely no justification for asking the court to suspend its deliberations at this late stage, and neither EPA nor the parties challenging the Clean Power Plan have pointed to any precedent.”

The Clean Power Plan establishes the only nationwide limits on climate-destabilizing carbon pollution from existing power plants, our largest source of this pollutant. When fully implemented, the Clean Power Plan would avoid each year 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days.

The Trump Administration filed a motion last week asking the D.C. Circuit to indefinitely suspend (or “hold in abeyance”) pending legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan – even though the case was argued before the en banc court more than six months ago. The motion was filed immediately after a sweeping executive order seeking rollbacks for a wide array of climate and public health protections. 

In today’s brief, EDF and others urge the court to proceed to a ruling on the merits of the Clean Power Plan, arguing that EPA’s motion comes at a very late stage in the litigation and that EPA’s requested abeyance could delay urgently needed pollution reductions from power plants by years. 

The brief says:

“[T]his Court [should] deny the [EPA’s] extraordinary motion for indefinite abeyance of the Court’s deliberations over the Clean Power Plan, which would have the effect of improperly suspending the Rule without review by any court, without any explanation, and without mandatory administrative process … [EPA] cannot be allowed to accomplish through abeyance something [that] it cannot do on its own: an indefinite suspension of a duly promulgated rule without judicial review, without a notice and comment rulemaking, and without any reasoned explanation.”

Opponents launched legal challenges against the Clean Power Plan before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even finished writing it. An extraordinarily broad and diverse coalition — including numerous states and cities, former Republican heads of EPA, leading businesses such as Google, Mars and Apple, numerous power companies, public health groups including the American Lung Association, and many more – are currently defending the Clean Power Plan in the D.C. Circuit. Large majorities of Americans support the Clean Power Plan – including in states that are currently opposing these common sense, cost-effective safeguards in court.

A coalition of 17 states and seven major cities and counties also filed a brief today asking the court to continue its judicial review of the Clean Power Plan. 

You can get more information, including all legal briefs in these cases, on EDF’s website.

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