Business-supported Clean Power Plan hearing underway - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, GHG Emissions, Industrial, Regulation, Sourcing Renewables  -  September 28, 2016

Post-hearing, Clean Power Plan deliberation begins

Oral arguments in the long-anticipated D.C. Circuit Court hearing of the case against the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan were held Sept. 27, with neither side coming ahead as a clear winner. 

The 10 en banc judges hearing the case will now deliberate before issuing a decision on the matter, possibly not until early 2017. 

At issue with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is whether or not the U.S. EPA acted within its authority in creating the Clean Power Plan, which seeks to curb carbon emissions from existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan, often considered to be the cornerstone of the Obama administration's environmental actions, was issued in August 2015 and aims to cut carbon emissions from the power industry by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030.

The rule has been challenged in court by 27 states; their opposition is being led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Its fate remains uncertain after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on the rule in February, pending the outcome of ongoing litigation in the D.C. Circuit court.

Those advocating on the side of the EPA are not entirely usual suspects. Some of the country's largest businesses have issued their support of the plan, and tech giants Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft went as far as to file a joint amicus brief earlier this year arguing that the EPA's rule supports the national shift toward clean energy, and will "help businesses of all sorts invest and benefit from clean energy." 

Liz Delaney, program director for the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps program, explained in a blog post ahead of the arguments Sept. 26 why so many U.S. businesses are supportive of the plan: 

The rule provides investment certainty, while incorporating a flexible framework that ensures that its pollution reduction targets can be met in the most cost-effective manner available. That's why major innovators like Google, Microsoft, and Apple — companies that employ tens of thousands of Americans across the country — are reducing their contributions to carbon pollution and supporting the Clean Power Plan. As a Google official put it, with the Clean Power Plan it's possible to drive "innovation and growth while tackling climate change."

For more details about the arguments made Sept. 27 and the case in general, The Washington Post, Utility Dive and SNL Energy have summaries.  

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