EPA chief: ‘we will prevail’ in power plant lawsuits

EPA chief: ‘we will prevail’ in power plant lawsuits
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The Obama administration’s top environmental regulator predicted new, broad power plant regulations will hold up despite a series of lawsuits against them. 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden administration breaks down climate finance roadmap Obama to attend Glasgow climate summit White House puts together climate finance strategy MORE said that regulators knew that implementing its Clean Power Plan, a rule designed to cut emissions from power plants, “was not going to be an effort without controversy.”

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The Clean Power Plan, which looks to cut power sector emissions by 32 percent by 2030, is the cornerstone of Obama’s climate change agenda. Since the EPA finalized the regulation, more than half the states and scores of interest groups and businesses have sued against it, arguing regulators overstepped their bounds in issuing the rule. 

“Climate change has been an issue of tremendous controversy; no matter what we did, it would have been controversial,” McCarthy said in the interview with Columbia University's Bill Loveless. 

“But I think we know that states continue to be at the table, planning while this litigation is proceeding. We feel very confident that we have provided tremendous flexibility, we’ve done it in a way that the Clean Air Act allowed, and frankly, states have been asking us to do for ages.”

McCarthy said “litigation was expected" before the rule came out, but she repeated what she and the Obama administration have long held: The Clean Air Act gives the agency the power to regulate power sector emissions as it is under the Clean Power Plan. 

McCarthy’s interview comes the same day the Senate is debating a Congressional Review Act resolution to block the Clean Power Plan. Obama is certain to veto any resolution against the rule — something even opponents of the plan acknowledge — making litigation the most likely way for the rule to be undone. 

But McCarthy said she’s confident that won’t happen.

“I think we will prevail and I think over time people will see the actions we’re asking them to take will be in the direction in which investments are heading now,” she said. 

“One of the most important things about this rule was to not try to do too much too soon, but do exactly as we’re doing on international [climate policy]: Get running out of the gate fast, but send that longer-term signal."