Coal company says EPA climate rule already hurting industry

A major coal company is arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed climate rule for power plants is already having an effect on its operations.

Murray Energy Corp. told the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Thursday that, since the EPA’s proposal is already hurting its finances, it should be allowed to pursue its lawsuit against the rule.

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“The mere pendency of the proposed rule causes immediate harm because coal producers and utility customers must make — and are making — current business decisions now,” the company wrote in its final brief to the court before oral arguments for the case in April.

“EPA’s pursuit of this rule-making continues to pressure states and capital markets to dismantle Murray Energy’s customer base,” it said.

Murray’s argument is in response to the EPA’s assertion to the court that since the regulation has only been proposed and has not been enforced, companies like Murray do not have standing to challenge it.

“EPA has only published a proposal for notice and comment; it has not yet considered and responded to those comments as the [Clean Air Act] requires, nor ‘promulgated’ a regulation,” the agency wrote earlier this month to the court. “Thus, it has taken no action that has binding legal effect or determines any entity’s rights or obligations.”

The EPA’s rule, proposed last June, seeks to cut carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent by 2030.

The agency estimated that it would reduce coal’s market share for electricity to 31 percent, from the current 39 percent.

It is highly unusual for courts to overturn rules before they are made final, leading the EPA to argue that the challenge is premature.

But Murray says that the egregious violation of the Clean Air Act, along with the effects the proposal has already had, should allow the appeals court to block the EPA from making it final.