Full D.C. Circuit to Review Obama’s Clean Power Plan

     (CN) — Environmentalists cheered news Tuesday that the D.C. Circuit will hold an en banc hearing on federal regulations combating climate change, though this pushes the court date back six months.
     The Environmental Protection Agency published its new carbon dioxide emissions guidelines for power plants in October 2015, prompting 24 states and regulatory agencies to immediately petition the D.C. Circuit for review.
     Codified at Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the guidelines requires states to reduce CO2 emissions nationwide by 32 percent by 2030, relative to 2005 levels.
     The EPA calls the rule “a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change,” but challengers, led by West Virginia, say the plan will destroy jobs, cause electricity bills to skyrocket and weaken the nation’s electric grid.
     With a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit poised to hold a hearing on the challenge this June, the U.S. Supreme Court split 5-4 on a vote that blocked the rule from taking effect.
     The order came just days before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia left the court without its previous conservative majority. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan had voted against the stay, which remains in place pending a petition to the Supreme Court for certiorari.
     As the parties eyed their June court date, though, the D.C. Circuit announced Monday night that it would cancel this panel hearing in favor of proceedings before the full court.
     Though this en banc hearing is not until September, Sierra Club attorney Joanne Spalding said in a statement that the news will actually “expedite the legal process, and allow the case to be resolved more quickly.”
     “We remain confident that the Clean Power Plan has a strong legal basis and that the EPA has acted within its authority by crafting this policy that will bring significant economic and health benefits to the American public,” Spalding said in a statement.
     West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton lead the challenge, joined by Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, along with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Public Service Commission, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

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