Biden EPA asks D.C. Circuit to freeze mandate on Clean Power Plan

March 5, 2021

The Environmental Protection Agency asked courts on February 12 to partially freeze a mandate that was issued when judges scrapped the Affordable Clean Energy rule last month according to a February 12, 2021 Bloomberg Law report.

EPA wants to delay the order that vacates former President Donald Trump’s repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan while the EPA crafts new standards for power plant greenhouse gas emissions according to a motion filed at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The request would ensure that the Clean Power Plan wouldn’t go into effect and create obligations for states while the EPA reviews its options for carbon rules under the Clean Air Act.

“EPA strongly believes that no rule should go into effect until such action is completed,” the agency said on Friday’s motion. “This will promote regulatory certainty and to avoid the possibility of administrative disruption.

The acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, Joseph Goffman, reinforced the need for regulatory certainty in a 2/12 memo about the motion to regional PA staff. He insisted that the decision to toss the ACE rule wouldn’t result in any obligations for states to submit GHG plans in the interim period between rulemakings. “Because the court vacated ACE and did not expressly reinstate the CPP, EPA understands the decision as leaving neither of those rules,” Goffman said in the memo.

Groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund lauded the motion for reinforcing the urgency for new power plan pollution limits.

“There are currently no nationwide limits on climate pollution from existing fossil fuel power plans, and EPA must get to work developing new protections,” Environmental Defense Fund senior attorney Ben Levitan said in a statement on the filings.

Trump’s EPA crafted the hotly contested ACE rule to replace the more stringent Clean Power Plan which was never implemented after lengthy legal fights. The D.C. Circuit last month scrapped the ACE rule entirely for giving no valid legal basis for promulgating weakened standards for the industry.

The decision struck a major blow to the outgoing Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda, and handed the Biden administration a clean slate to craft new standards for coal plant greenhouse gas emissions.

What this means to you
EPA wants to delay the order that vacates former President Donald Trump’s repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan while the EPA crafts new standards for power plant greenhouse gas emissions. “EPA strongly believes that no rule should go into effect until such action is completed. This will promote regulatory certainty and avoid the possibility of administrative disruption,” EPA said.

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