Clean Power Plan Foes Face ‘Very Skeptical’ DC Appeals Court
After a high-stakes hearing this week before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, one of the leading advocates behind the White House’s Clean Power Plan is more confident the landmark carbon reduction initiative will survive a legal challenge by 27 state attorneys general.
“David Doniger, director, climate and clean air program for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a party to the case, said during a press conference call Tuesday night that the court was ‘very skeptical’ of the arguments presented by the coalition challenging the plan,” Renewable Energy World reports.
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The 10 judges who heard the case “understood that the big fiction in the [challengers’] case is that the power industry was just stable and happy delivering coal-fired power and nothing was changing until the…EPA came along with the Clean Power Plan,” Doniger said. The reality was that the U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant, and that the U.S. Clean Air Act applies to power plants.
While “the other side is still looking for some way to avoid facing the music,” Doniger said the court came “incredibly well-prepared” to delve into the specifics of the case. “From the very first question from the court, which was about pointing out that the rule does not have the kinds of extreme consequences as the petitioners’ case is based upon, the court had obviously dug deep beneath the rhetoric of the litigators and into the details of the rule and the supporting facts.”
Earthjustice lawyer Howard Fox told media he was surprised the opposing side had made no effort to “relitigate whether climate change is real or an urgent problem.” In the end, though, “there was no questioning EPA’s approach in this rule as a sensible way to go at this problem—as cost-effective and giving substantial emissions reductions.”
The court is expected to rule in three to five months.