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Federal appeals court refuses to block clean power plan

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] on Thursday rejected a bid to block [order, PDF] the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) [materials]. A three-judge panel of the DC Circuit issued an order denying an application seeking to stay the rule while litigation continues. The parties challenging the Obama administration's proposal to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants included 27 states led by West Virginia and several business groups. However, more than a dozen states on the other end of the spectrum and the National League of Cities, which represents more than 19,000 US cities, filed their own papers with the court backing the CPP. The CPP aims to lower carbon emissions from power plants to 32 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030. This ruling only means that the regulations will remain in place for the time being, but the appeals court still has to hear oral arguments on June 2 to decide whether the regulations are lawful. However, West Virginia's Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has already expressed his intentions to appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court [official website].

Regulating power plant emissions has been a contentious issue. A highly divided US Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-4 last June that the EPA could not make regulations [JURIST report] regarding the toxic emissions of power plants without considering costs. The panel of judges on the case issued a set of concurring and dissenting opinions disagreeing either with the judgment or the reasoning of it. In August the EPA proposed new rules [JURIST report] to cut methane emissions by the oil and gas industry, as part of the Obama administration's commitment to taking action on climate change. Also in August the US District Court of the District of North Dakota granted a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against a rule granting the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction over small US waterways. In another recent case involving the Clean Water Act [JURIST report], two environmental groups filed a lawsuit last December against the EPA accusing the agency of failing to comply with a court order to strengthen storm drain pollution regulation. The presently disputed Clean Power plan was announced [statement, video] by US President Barack Obama in an attempt to to improve air quality and reduce green house gas emissions

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