Lawsuits pile up against Obama’s climate rule

Lawsuits pile up against Obama’s climate rule
© Getty Images

A wide range of litigants filed lawsuits Friday against President Obama’s signature climate change rule for power plants, representing a broad group of business interests.

After 24 states and a coal mining company were the first out the gate with lawsuits Friday morning, more and more challenges rolled into the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.


Each lawsuit argues that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went far beyond the authority Congress gave it in setting carbon dioxide limits for power plants, and that the rule will cause unacceptable harm.

The National Federal of Independent Businesses led a large coalition of business groups in filing one lawsuit Friday afternoon.

“The EPA is doing an end-run around Congress by imposing in the form of regulation a law that the legislative branch of government has already expressly rejected,” Karen Harned, executive director of the group’s Small Business Legal Center, said in a statement.

“This is a crystal clear violation of the constitutional separation of powers,” she said.

The United States Chamber of Commerce is among the litigants joining in the coalition.

“The EPA’s rule is unlawful and a bad deal for America,” said Thomas Donohue, the Chamber’s president.

“It will drive up electricity costs for businesses, consumers and families, impose tens of billions in annual compliance costs, and reduce our nation’s global competitiveness — without any significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association filed its own lawsuit.

“This rule goes far beyond what the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to do and will challenge our nation’s electric system,” said Debbie Wing, the group’s spokeswoman. “These complicated regulations will force cooperatives to close power plants, which are producing affordable electricity for consumers who were counting on them for decades to come.”

The American Wood Council and the American Forest & Paper Association joined in the litigation with another case.

“AWC joins this litigation in order to ensure continued use of renewable energy and to support states’ ability, as some have already done, to fully recognize biomass energy as a critical component of clean power,” said Robert Glowinski, president of the American Wood Council.

A pair of coal industry groups, the National Mining Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, joined together in filing their own lawsuit.

In addition to the 24 states that filed the Friday morning lawsuit, North Dakota and Oklahoma each sued separately, bringing the total number of state challengers to 26, or more than half of all states.

The federal judges are likely to combine many of the different lawsuits, and to hear arguments at the same session for cases that have not been combined.

The EPA says the challenges won’t succeed.

“The Clean Power Plan has strong scientific and legal foundations, provides states with broad flexibilities to design and implement plans, and is clearly within EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy & Environment — White House announces new climate office New White House office to develop climate change policies Kerry: Climate summit 'bigger, more engaged, more urgent' than in past MORE said in a statement.

“We are confident we will again prevail against these challenges and will be able to work with states to successfully implement these first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States,” she said.

In addition to the challenges, a group of Democratic state and city attorneys general, led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman, are planning to petition the court to let them participate in the lawsuit to assist the EPA in defending its regulation.