Over 200 current, former lawmakers back Obama in climate case

Over 200 current, former lawmakers back Obama in climate case
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Over 200 current and former members of Congress are supporting the Obama administration in the legal challenge to its landmark climate rule for power plants.

The lawmakers, almost all Democrats, argued in a brief filed late Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation follows exactly what Congress intended to do when it wrote the Clean Air Act (CAA) and amended it in 1990.

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“The rule at issue effectuates the policy Congress established in the CAA because it is consistent with the text, structure, and legislative history of the act,” the lawmakers wrote to the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

“Most significantly, it reflects Congress’s considered decision to establish a comprehensive regulatory regime that could address all pollutants, both known and unknown,” they said.

The members said that Congress wrote a section into the law meant as a “gap-filling” provision so that the EPA could, in the future, regulation pollutants that Congress did not identify in 1990.

That is the provision that the EPA used to justify its Clean Power Plan, which seeks a 32 percent cut in the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

The section “continues to authorize EPA to regulate those air pollutants that pose a substantial threat to the public health and welfare, and the rule is an exercise of that authority. To hold otherwise would critically undermine the statutory structure that Congress put in place in the CAA.”

The filing serves in part as an answer to a group of Republican lawmakers who filed a brief in February with the court, arguing that the EPA does not have the power to enforce the regulation it wrote.

Thursday was the deadline for most briefs in support of the EPA’s position in the case. The court also received briefs from two former Republican EPA heads, former state energy and environment officials.

Early Friday morning, technology companies Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon asked the court for permission to file their own brief supporting the EPA.

The Supreme Court ordered a temporary delay on the rule in February while the legal challenge proceeds.