President Obama’s Clean Power Plan has helped give the United States credibility in the global climate talks underway in France. It has also given the president plenty of trouble at home.
The plan, which reduces carbon pollution from power plants, is scheduled to take effect Dec. 22, but it has come under attack from a wide array of American business groups and mostly Republican elected officials.
Twenty-seven states have sued to stop the plan, as have industry groups including the National Mining Assn. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“The EPA’s rule is unlawful and a bad deal for America,” Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the chamber, said in October, after the rule was published in the Federal Register. “It will drive up electricity costs for businesses, consumers and families, impose tens of billions in annual compliance costs, and reduce our nation’s global competitiveness—without any significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.”
On the other side, at least 16 states, several cities, various power companies and other groups have filed legal motions in support of the Clean Power Plan, and it has wide support among environmental groups and many Democrats.
On Tuesday, a broad group of environmental groups filed a motion against opponents’ efforts to stop the new rule. The groups said opponents’ “caricatures” of the plan “bear no similarity to the actual rule,” and they emphasized that the rule does not require emission limitations to begin until 2022.
Once in effect,” they wrote, “emission reductions will phase in gradually through 2030, allowing each state to determine an optimal glide path for compliance.”
The motion included statements of support from two former heads of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and a former secretary of state, Madeline Albright, who cut to the chase on the question of the importance of the plan to the talks in France.
“A stay of the Clean Power Plan could derail the international momentum to implement the emission reduction commitments achieved at the Paris Climate Conference,” Albright said.
The various suits and motions have been consolidated into a single case before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.
The groups filed their motion on the same day that one of the plan’s principal architects, Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, visited the Paris conference to promote its role in a potential international agreement.