Saturday, April 29, 2017

Trump's EPA Wins Advantage in Campaign to Dismantle Clean Power Plan

An appeals court agreed to delay ruling on the Obama plan to rein in global warming emissions.

The Clean Power Plan, designed by the Obama administration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, is the centerpiece of U.S. pledges to cut emissions in line with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. (Credit: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
A federal appeals court on Friday temporarily granted the Trump administration's request to defer ruling on the validity of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, and said it would next consider handing the far-reaching climate rules back to the Environmental Protection Agency to be overhauled or even dismantled.

It was a significant tactical advance for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who on President Donald Trump's orders is working to undo the CPP, which would regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and is critical to meeting U.S. pledges  under the Paris climate agreement.

But the court did not give Pruitt all he wanted.  He had sought an indefinite hiatus—or "abeyance," in legal jargon—for as long as it took for him to decide what to do about controlling carbon dioxide emissions, which the Supreme Court has repeatedly found to be EPA's mandate under the Clean Air Act.

Instead, the appeals court granted an abeyance for just 60 days.  It asked the adversaries who have been fighting in court ever since the rules were proposed to submit briefs in just over two weeks on whether the painstakingly devised regulations should be "remanded"—basically sent back to EPA's drawing board.

If that happens, electric power plants, especially those burning coal, which have long produced a major proportion of U.S. greenhouse gases, would be allowed indefinitely to continue doing so largely unfettered by federal constraints.  They would be mitigated only by market forces, state and local laws, and rules governing other pollutions.

David Doniger, a lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the ruling disappointing, but not devastating.  He noted that if the rule is remanded to Trump's EPA, the Supreme Court stay could be lifted and the Obama version could remain in force, pending its reconsideration.

Even if the appeals court ultimately decides not to cede the field entirely to the Trump-Pruitt EPA, it's hard to see at this point how anything but delay and uncertainty lies ahead for the next few years.

Read more at Trump's EPA Wins Advantage in Campaign to Dismantle Clean Power Plan

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