Court sets schedule for CO2 rule stay requests

OREANDA-NEWS. November 02, 2015. A federal court today granted the US Environmental Protecting Agency's request to wrap up the initial phase of arguments over whether to delay implementation of CO2 regulations for power plants by the end of this year.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals set a briefing schedule for motions to stay implementation of the Clean Power Plan that would wrap up on 23 December. The court also granted EPA's request to set a 5 November deadline for filing new motions to stay the regulations. EPA yesterday asked the court to set the deadline to "avoid the chaotic, redundant and resource-intensive briefing of stay motions that has occurred in a number of recent cases involving significant Clean Air Act rules" such as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

Five motions to stay the Clean Power Plan have been filed by 25 states, more than a dozen industry groups and about 45 power generators, including Southern Co. Four were filed last week, and the fifth was filed yesterday by the state of Oklahoma.

The motions ask the court to block implementation of the Clean Power Plan while it reviews the 20 lawsuits filed against the regulations to date. Not doing so could cause major harm, the states say, because they have to spend significant resources immediately to begin work on compliance plans for the regulations.

Under the briefing schedule, EPA has until 3 December to respond to stay motions filed by 5 November and the plaintiffs have until 23 December to file their reply briefs. After the briefing is complete, the case would head to oral arguments, which have not been scheduled yet.

Coal producer Peabody Energy today asked the court to allow it to join the main lawsuits against the Clean Power Plan in support of groups opposed to the rules. A number of other parties have filed similar requests, with nine environmental groups and two clean energy groups seeking to join on behalf of EPA.

The Clean Power Plan requires 47 states to meet CO2 targets for their power sectors in 2022-2030. The states have until September 2016 to offer initial compliance plans to EPA, with final plans due two years later. EPA says states can use a wide range of measures to meet the CO2 targets, but it is encouraging the use of emissions trading as a primary compliance option.