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EPA’s Clean Power Plan, Facing Supreme Court Stay, Gains Support

In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. President Barack Obama presented his final plan for carbon dioxide reduction targets on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, which would reduce emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

CREDIT: AP/Jim Cole.

Over 200 current and former members of Congress publicly declared their support for the Clean Power Plan this month. The Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s plan to reduce carbon emissions, was issued a stay by the Supreme Court in February.

In the months since, there has been growing uncertainty over what will happen to the Clean Power Plan. The rule is on hold until the D.C. Circuit Court makes a ruling. However, this could be as late as this fall.

The 200 current and former Congress members showed their support by filing an amicus brief for the plan. The group of lawmakers included 44 current and former senators and 164 current and former members of the House, from both parties.

Meanwhile, the case against the plan is brought by 27 states. The group is led by coal-heavy West Virginia. These states claim that the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority by creating the rule. The rule would regulate power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. However, because the EPA already regulates other pollutants from power plants under section 112, these states are arguing that the EPA cannot use a different section of the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon from power plants.

In spite of this argument, groups are beginning to speak out in support of the plan, through the filing of amicus briefs. A group of 54 local governments, along with the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, also filed an amicus brief this month.

“Mayors know cities have the most to gain, as well as the most to lose in this debate because climate change and rising sea levels threaten the physical structure of our cities,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “Cities have been combating climate change for over a decade through our Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, but we need a national response.”

Environmental and health groups also submitted a brief, as well as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.

During an event hosted by the Brookings Institution on the Clean Power Plan, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Climate and Energy Program Director Jonas Monast noted that the Clean Power Plan could have long-lasting effects.

“The Clean Power Plan created a forcing mechanism to bring utility regulators and air regulators and utilities and affected stakeholders to the table to really start engaging about what we want the future of the electricity sector to be,” Monast said.

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