Court won’t block Obama’s climate rule

President Obama’s landmark climate change rule for power plants can move forward while its opponents challenge it, a federal court ruled Thursday.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a request by West Virginia, dozens of other states and various energy interest groups to put a judicial stay on the regulation, saying the challengers didn’t show that the stay is needed.

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“Petitioners have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review,” the court’s three-judge panel wrote in the brief order.

It’s a major early win for the Environmental Protection Agency, which immediately faced a barrage of congressional and legal challenges from the moment in August when it made the regulation final.

The White House is “pleased” with the decision, press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.

“We are confident that the plan will reduce carbon pollution and deliver better air quality, improved public health, and jobs across the country,” he said.

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said her agency is confident the climate rule will pass muster in court.

“The Plan rests on strong scientific and legal foundations, provides states with broad flexibilities to design and implement plans, is clearly within EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act and shows the United States’ leadership on climate action,” she said.

The rule, known as the Clean Power Plan, mandates a 32 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants.

Opponents told the court that without a stay, they would quickly suffer irreparable harm from a regulation that could eventually be overturned, since they say it does not comply with the Clean Air Act and the Constitution.

But the opponents did score a win in Thursday’s order. The court agreed to expedite the litigation process, scheduling oral arguments for June 2.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is leading the legal charge against the regulation, said he was "disappointed" in the decision, but believes the challenge "will ultimately prevail in court.” 
 
“The court did not issue a ruling on the merits and we remain confident that our arguments will prevail as the case continues,” Morrisey said.
 
Environmental groups applauded the court for letting the regulation proceed.
 
“This decision clears the way for states to continue implementing this common-sense standard,” said Joanne Spalding, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club. “The only people who won’t be cheering this decision are those who profit from pollution and their political allies.”
 
“This is a huge win for protecting our health and climate from dangerous carbon pollution,” said David Doniger, climate program director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
 
“The court has brushed aside the polluters’ bogus bid to block the Clean Power Plan, and the electricity sector will continue the shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fueled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future.”
 
In considering a judicial stay, the judges weigh the likelihood that the challengers would succeed on the case’s merits, whether the challengers would suffer irreparable harm without a stay, whether other parties would not suffer substantial harm and whether a stay is in the public interest.
 
This story was updated at 6:37 p.m.