GOP attorneys general take victory lap on power plan

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The Republican attorneys general leading the charge against President Obama’s power plant rules said Wednesday they are encouraged by the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily halt the rule.

Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia and Ken Paxton of Texas told reporters that the 5–4 stay ruling validated their concerns about the Clean Power Plan and confirmed their argument about executive overreach that makes up the bulk of their lawsuits against the regulation. 

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“It’s my hope that the American public will begin to learn just how far reaching Obama’s power plan is. It represents a radical transformation of energy policy and will have a sweeping impact on American life,” Morrisey said.

“It’s not legal under the Clean Air Act, case law precedent or the Constitution, and that’s why we won a stay yesterday from the Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court announced its stay of the Clean Power Plan on Wednesday night. The order — after an appeals court had denied an earlier stay request — is considered unprecedented, and opponents of the power plan note that it means justices believe those suing over the plan have a strong case against it.

Morrissey and Paxton led 26 states in suing over the rule, saying the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overstepped its bounds in issuing the regulation. They and others have warned the Clean Power Plan would raise energy rates and hurt jobs in the energy industry.

“The EPA had placed the livelihoods of far too many people on the line when they attempted to impose these rule,” Paxton said. 

A final decision on the legality of the rule isn’t expected until next year. An appeals court will hear oral arguments on the rule this summer, and it’s virtually certain to go before the Supreme Court.

An Obama administration official downplayed the stay decision last night, saying it is “a temporary procedural determination that does nothing to affect first our confidence in the legal soundness of this rule.”

Even so, the attorneys general said the stay effectively stops the rule in its tracks from a compliance standpoint.

“We’ve got a stay,” Paxton said. “The whole point of the stay is to stop us from having to provide any implementation plan, so we’re not moving forward with anything until this case is resolved.”