Trump lawyers ask court to halt climate rule case

Trump lawyers ask court to halt climate rule case
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Trump administration attorneys are asking an appeals court to hold off on ruling on whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan is legal.

In a filing late Tuesday, attorneys notified the court that President Trump had signed an executive order earlier that day asking the EPA to consider repealing the climate change regulation and that EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittMy freedom is on the line to fight climate change, more will follow Sessions: DOJ prohibited from issuing guidance that creates new rules Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog MORE had officially started that process.

Given those circumstances, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia should put a pause on proceedings until the new regulatory process for potential repeal is complete, they said.

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“The Clean Power Plan is under close scrutiny by the EPA, and the prior positions taken by the agency with respect to the rule do not necessarily reflect its ultimate conclusions,” the Justice Department attorneys wrote.

“EPA should be afforded the opportunity to fully review the Clean Power Plan and respond to the president’s direction in a manner that is consistent with the terms of the executive order, the Clean Air Act, and the agency’s inherent authority to reconsider past decisions. Deferral of further judicial proceedings is thus warranted,” they said.

The appeals court is considering a lawsuit filed by a coalition of conservative states, energy companies, business interests and others, who sued to stop the rule in 2015 after the Obama administration finalized it. Pruitt, who was Oklahoma’s attorney general at the time, was one of the leading challengers.

Ten of the court’s justices heard oral arguments in September in the case and could rule any day on whether the limits on carbon dioxide emissions for power plants are legal and constitutional.

But Trump’s Tuesday order effectively flips the government’s position from defending the rule to opposing it.

The court is not obligated to heed the Trump administration’s request. And even though the EPA is nearly certain to repeal the rule, the court could still uphold it.

Additionally, environmental groups, Democratic states and other supporters of the regulation may ask the court to continue its proceedings, with the rule’s supporters acting to defend it.

Trump’s Tuesday order was wide-ranging, targeting not just the Clean Power Plan, but nearly all of Obama’s executive actions and regulations on climate change.