EPA’s repackaging of power plant rules could thwart court challenges

  • Katie Colaneri

Earlier this week, we told you the Environmental Protection Agency is putting off issuing new rules for cutting carbon emissions from new, existing and modified power plants so it can roll out all three proposals together this summer.

Scott Detrow – formerly of StateImpact Pennsylvania, now with E&E News – reports this new plan could help defend the plans from court challenges.

More from E&E News:

A former EPA official said packaging the three rules together could make court challenges more difficult. “I think they’re hoping to make it harder for people to challenge either rule,” said Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA air chief who now works as a partner at the Bracewell & Giuliani law firm. “If they do them all together in one package, they’ll argue that it will be one case. I’m sure they’re hoping to limit the number of words and number of pages [in briefs].”

A similar strategy made it harder for opponents to challenge the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for coal plants in court, Holmstead said. “It was a massive rule that covered power plants all over the country … the court only gave a limited number of words to those challenges,” he said.

Joe Kruger, a Clean Air Act expert and consultant who worked for both EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, agreed. “In some ways, it’s a lot easier if these are packaged together. It makes it easier for EPA to defend,” he said.

The three rules form a major component of President Obama’s plan to combat climate change. The overall goal is a 30 percent reduction in emissions nationwide by the year 2030. States will be directed to craft plans to meet their own specific targets.

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