White House to SCOTUS: Bid to block climate rule ‘unprecedented’

Administration officials told the Supreme Court to Thursday to reject an “extraordinary and unprecedented” request by conservative states to block its landmark climate change rule.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli accused the states, led by West Virginia, of trying to bypass the normal process for challenging the climate regulation, and said they haven’t demonstrated a strong case for why that should happen.

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“The relief that applicants request would be extraordinary and unprecedented, and their applications should be denied,” Verrilli wrote in a Thursday brief to the high court, representing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which wrote the rule.

“Applicants seek a stay before any court has expressed a view about, let alone rendered a final decision concerning, the merits of their legal claims,” he said.

“Applicants identify no case in which this court has granted a stay of a generally applicable regulation pending initial judicial review in the court of appeals.”

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last month rejected the 26 states’ petition to block the rule while it was being litigated, spurring them to appeal to the Supreme Court, a move they admit is unusual.

The states argued that the rule, which seeks a 32 percent cut in the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions, would cause irreparable harm to them during the time it will take for the courts to decide its legality.

If it is eventually overturned, the states say it would be too late to stop the damage.

But the Obama administration’s attorneys said that’s not the case, since states don’t have to even submit compliance plans until 2018, and don’t have to start cutting carbon until 2022.

The states also failed to meet the other requirements for a stay, like demonstrating that it would be in the public interest and that they’re likely to proceed on the merits of the case.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will now consider whether to block the rule. He could also bring the issue up for a vote of the full court.