A federal court is unlikely to block the Obama administration’s landmark climate change rule, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Thursday.
A coalition of states, energy companies, business groups and others led by West Virginia has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to put the regulations on hold while they are litigated.
“I think we’ll get through the stay soon. We’ll be getting a decision in the next couple weeks or so,” McCarthy said at a Council on Foreign Relations event on climate change policy.
“There’s no damage that would warrant a stay that any of us could identify,” she said. “So we’re really hopeful on that.”
The requested stay is only the first of many expected steps in the litigation, which could take years.
The circuit court will ultimately decide on the legality of the rules, which require states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But whichever side wins, the other is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court, extending the timeline even further.
McCarthy repeated her stance that the rule is legally defensible under the Clean Air Act.
“We all are confident that we meet the legal test there,” she said.
McCarthy was reticent about what would happen if the rule were overturned, predicting it would not happen.
But she said the Obama administration would probably keep trying to work on the issue of climate change.
“This is our shot at looking at this under the Clean Air Act,” she said. “We’d always welcome Congress taking action. We don’t see that coming up, so we’ll look at other opportunities.”
Beyond the court fight, McCarthy said her top priority for the climate rule is working with states to implement it.
States are under a September deadline to either submit emission-reduction plans or ask for an extension of up to two years.
“I’ve been to many meetings and I’m seeing nothing but really, very positive energy on this,” McCarthy said. “I’m pretty confident that we’re going to have the plans in.”