EPA allies blast 'speculative' arguments against climate rule

EPA allies blast 'speculative' arguments against climate rule
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A coalition of states, advocacy groups, companies and others is asking a federal appeals court to reject “speculative” arguments against the Obama administration’s climate change rule for power plants.

The coalition filed four briefs late Tuesday with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where conservative states and energy companies are seeking an immediate stay to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing the rule.

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“The caricatures in the stay motions bear no similarity to the actual rule,” a team of more than a dozen public health and environmental groups, led by the Environmental Defense Council, told the court.

“Movants’ declarations allege harms that are speculative, would occur (if at all) long past the litigation period, and rest on rank mischaracterizations of the rule’s structure and modeling analysis,” the coalition said.

A group of 18 states, six cities and a county accused the litigants asking for a stay, led by West Virginia and Murray Energy Corp., of misrepresenting what the regulation does.

“Far from intruding on state sovereignty or coercing state governments, the rule sets reasonable limits on carbon-dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel power plants — just as previous EPA rules have limited other forms of pollution from these same power plants,” they wrote. “These arguments fundamentally mischaracterize the rule.”

The briefs are the latest steps in litigation over the rule, dubbed the Clean Power Plan. It was released in August and mandates a 32 percent cut in the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions.

While the opponents of the rule want it completely overturned, they’re also asking for it to be blocked from implementation while it goes through court, arguing that it would cause irreparable harm to them during the litigation if not stopped.

But the groups backing the EPA said no such harm exists.

“Movants are incorrect when they describe the alleged harms they say will immediately befall electric generators and utilities because the rule requires nothing of affected sources until 2022 (at the earliest),” wrote a coalition of electric utilities backing the rule, headed by NextEra Energy Inc.

A coalition of renewable energy associations also weighed in, saying that the opponents “allege harms that are wholly speculative and not causally related to the rule, and fail to demonstrate irreparable harm during the short period of judicial review.”

The final briefs for consideration of the judicial stay are due in court later this month, at which point the judges could decide whether to step in and stop the rule or let it go forward.