Published: Wed, September 28, 2016
Research | By Jennifer Evans

US appeals court hears arguments in Clean Power Plan case

She added that emissions from coal-, oil and natural gas-fired power plants were responsible for about 40 percent of the carbon pollution in the U.S. That carbon pollution is causing climate change that is "leading to warming ocean temperatures, with the Gulf of ME warming faster than 99 percent of the world's oceans, putting seafood species at risk and contributing to more frequent, destructive, and costly extreme weather events", she said.

The White House has said CPP would cut carbon emissions from power plants 32% from 2005 levels by 2030, a commitment that is central to Obama's global commitments made in advance of the Paris climate talks past year.

Texas and 26 other states have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, arguing it was assuming authority it had never been granted when Congress passed the Clean Air Act in the 1970s.

The Clean Air Act was created to address air pollutants, and has been so successful, in part, because it gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the tools necessary to help achieve Congress' objectives.

In fact, he said, his side might just win over the whole roster of judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In ruling previous year in another Clean Air Act case, MI v. EPA, the Supreme Court noted the irrationality of imposing "billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars" of benefits.

The late Justice Antonin Scalia has yet to be replaced, leaving the court divided evenly at four conservatives and four liberals and thus prone to deadlock.

Stephanie Joyce is with Inside Energy, a public media collaboration focused on America's energy issues. "It's not the thing that's really going to change energy policy in MI". This is an Obama administration rule that would restrict carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants. She contends the reports dispel the myth that clean energy and manufacturing competitiveness have to be in conflict.

The 10 judges hearing the case used the largest courtroom in Washington's federal courthouse for the arguments.

STEPHANIE JOYCE, BYLINE: Good morning. This is a big deal. States have wide latitude to meet their goals, such as shifting their electric portfolios to phase out coal plants, adopting more natural gas, and incorporating more renewable wind and solar power.

Soon after the Clean Power Plan was unveiled a year ago, states that produce coal that fires power plants, including the top three producers, Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky, took the EPA to court. "They seemed very well brief on the issues", he said.

The EPA's claim that it has a right to abate threats to public health is backed by 18 states, advocates for renewable energy sources and public health as well as technology companies Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Microsoft Corp. It destroys accountability, by directing the brunt of public disapproval for increased electricity costs and lost jobs onto state officials, when the federal government deserves the blame.

The justices will hear from more than a dozen lawyers in a case that illustrates how American courts, politics and powerful lobbies come together in a high profile case. So people are opposing this for a variety of different reasons, but there's really a lot of opposition.

During complex arguments before a multi-member court is unsafe to try to determine - based on questions posed at oral arguments - how a judge will ultimately rule. "None of their legal arguments holds up".

JOYCE: You're going to hear opponents argue against this in a number of ways, today.

But at the same time, she said, the impacts of the case could be so vast - and the EPA's regulatory scheme so novel - that a "clear statement" might be necessary from Congress to authorize the agency to alter its Clean Air Act interpretation.

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