Chamber: Obama climate rule meant to 'coerce' other nations

Chamber: Obama climate rule meant to 'coerce' other nations
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Business groups suing the Obama administration over its climate rule for power plants are calling the rule a “political aspiration” designed to “coerce” other countries into instituting climate action plans of their own. 

On a call with reporters Monday, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy accused the Obama administration of pushing its Clean Power Plan now as a way to gain leverage at a December climate chance conference in Paris.

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“In the administration's own words, they want to march into Paris with the strongest hand possible, and implementing a transformation of the entire electric sector certainly gives one the appearance of a strong hand, albeit the fact that this is going to be litigated for a number of years,” the Chamber's Karen Harbert said.

“There is no certainty going into Paris, with the transformation of the electric sector. Far from it.”

The Chamber, along with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Federal of Independent Businesses, were among the dozens of groups and states to sue against the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rule on Friday, when it was published in the Federal Register. 

The rule, which looks to cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 32 percent by 2030, is the key component of Obama’s climate action plan, a set of policies that make up the U.S.’s contribution to a potential United Nations climate deal this year.

Republicans have looked to attack both the U.S.’s role in the Paris talks and the Clean Power Plan, casting doubt on the prospects that either will succeed in diminishing global warming. Business groups did the same on Monday. 

“I do believe it’s fair to say that there is a political aspiration here, to show leadership in Paris and to encourage or coerce other countries to follow suit,” Harbert said. 

“As they admit, without other countries doing something, we do nothing with this regulation to address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Clean Power Plan faces a host of legal and legislative challenges, including Congressional Review Act resolutions from members. 

State attorneys general suing over the rule predicted a court order delaying its implementation could come within a month, or right around the Paris talks.

But officials with the business groups said Monday that it could take into next year to get a court to rule on the stay requests. Litigation against the rule, generally, is expected to take years.

“The Clean Air Act wasn’t designed as a tool for climate negotiations,” said Linda Kelly, NAM’s senior vice president. “We have to make sure that the agency is acting within the bounds of its regulatory authority, which it is not here.”