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Court Grants Freeze on Clean Power Plan Lawsuits

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By Editors of Power Engineering

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has halted litigation over the Clean Power Plan for 60 days.

The order, granted by request from the Trump Administration, now asks for guidance on whether to send the regulation back completely, which could spell the end of the rule, the Washington Post reported.

“Pursuant to the president’s executive order, Administrator [Scott] Pruitt has already announced that EPA is reviewing the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan,” said agency spokesman J.P. Freire. “We are pleased that this order gives EPA the opportunity to proceed with that process.”

Opponents of the Obama-era rule, which was the first-ever attempt to impose federal limits on existing power plants, hailed the decision.

“The court’s decision today to suspend the Clean Power Plan lawsuit is a positive step forward,” said U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican Congressman from North Dakota, which would have the severest reduction in carbon emissions required by the plan. “The Clean Power Plan was put together without any input from the public, industry or relevant organizations, which is precisely the reason President Trump has instructed the EPA to start over. With the D.C. Circuit still needing to make a final determination on the lawsuit, I encourage them to send this rule back to the EPA where the discussion can begin again in a public forum rather than being decided in a courtroom.”

However, groups such as the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund vowed to continue fighting for the rule in court.

“We are in a race against time to address the climate crisis,” Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. “The Supreme Court is clear that the EPA has a duty to protect Americans from dangerous climate pollution under our nation’s clean air laws.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in late March that instructed the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan. Additionally, the order rescinds a moratorium on coal mining on federal lands, rescinds former President Obama’s executive orders on climate change and urges federal agencies to identify all regulations, rules and policies that are obstacles and impediments to American energy.