Lawmakers: Congress has not given EPA power to enact climate rule

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Lawmakers opposed to President Obama’s climate rule for power plants told a federal court Tuesday that Congress has not given the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to institute the rule. 

In an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit against the power plant rule, more than 200 lawmakers contended that the EPA is overstepping its bounds with the Clean Power Plan and trying to implement a rule more wide-ranging than previous Congresses ever intended.

“This case involves a new regulation where the agency fails to ‘conform’ to clear congressional instructions and is seeking to usurp the role of Congress to establish climate and energy policy for the nation,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellRubio: GOP Congress could go in different direction than Trump Pelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Reid: Groping accusations show Trump’s ‘sickness’ MORE (R-Ky.), Sen. Jim InhofeJames InhofeGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election A dozen senators call for crackdown on Chinese steel Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (R-Okla.) and Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ed WhitfieldEd WhitfieldOvernight Energy: Green group sues Exxon over climate science Lobby firm hires Republican who resigned after ethics investigation Kentucky Republican to resign from House MORE (R-Ky.).

In their brief, which supports lawsuits against the rule from several states and utilities, lawmakers repeated many of their long-held arguments against the Clean Power Plan, saying the EPA cannot regulate power plant emissions under the section of the law it is citing and that it has no power to impose the rule on states.

The preamble to their argument against the rule is a decision from the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who joined the court’s four other conservative members earlier this month in issuing a stay against the rule. The opinion cited in the brief looks to outline the powers environmental regulators have in light of what lawmakers had previously passed. 

Congress, the members wrote, “has not authorized EPA to make the central policy choices in the final rule and, in many respects, has affirmatively rejected those policies, as it certainly did with respect to cap-and-trade programs for [carbon dioxide] emissions from power plants.”

Legal briefs supporting or opposing the power plant rule are due to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday. Last week, the plan’s chief opponents, a team of state attorneys general, called the rule a “breathtaking expansion” of the federal government’s power.

Oral arguments are set for June.