New Players Challenge Clean Power Plan

Published January 4, 2016

A flurry of last minute lawsuits were filed challenging the centerpiece of Obama administration’s fight against global warming, the clean power plan.

At least ten new parties filed lawsuits in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging the rules just before the December 22 deadline to challenge the regulations. Those filing suite on December 22, joined more than 27 states, and dozens of energy companies, business groups and others who have already filed suit to block the regulations for either new or existing power plants. The new challengers include, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Forest & Paper Association, the American Wood Council, the Energy-Intensive Manufacturers’ Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Regulation, the Local Government Coalition for Renewable Energy, the National Alliance of Forest Owners, Minnesota Power, Prairie State Generating Co., Denbury Onshore and the Biogenic CO2 Coalition.

“EPA’s Clean Power Plan violates constitutionally protected state rights by forcing set emissions standards for each state’s energy section,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a statement upon filing its suit. “The Clean Power Plan will also result in less power at higher prices.”

CPP Discriminates

Donna Harman, president of the American Forest and Paper association criticized the rule, not on federalism grounds or because of its impact on energy prices, rather because it discriminates against renewable biomass energy. “The Clean Power Plan does not put biomass on a level playing field with other renewable energy sources; this litigation will assure that EPA does not improperly constrain states’ ability to take advantage of the important role biomass energy can play in addressing climate change,” Harman was quoted as saying in The Hill.

Following general practice, rather than a separate hearing for each individual suit filed, the courts are likely to combine or consolidate the new lawsuits with the cases led by West Virginia and North Dakota challenging the rules for existing and new power plants, respectively. With the stakes so high, the cases are widely expected to eventually reach the Supreme Court, leaving to it the final say concerning whether the rules are in line with the powers granted to the Environmental Protection Agency by Congress in the Clean Air Act and the limits placed on executive action in the Constitution.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.