Obama Carbon Rules to Face Lawsuits, Congressional Tests – by Amy Harder and Brent Kendall (Wall Street Journal – October 23, 2015)


Challengers are expected to focus on whether the EPA exceeded its powers by pushing utilities to shift to cleaner forms of energy

WASHINGTON—What could be a yearslong legal and political battle over the Obama administration’s main climate-change initiative formally kicked off Friday, with two dozen states filing a lawsuit against regulations aimed at cutting U.S. carbon emissions.

The states sued in a federal court here to challenge the rules, which seek to reduce carbon output from hundreds of power plants across the nation. Congressional Republicans also said Friday they would introduce measures in the coming week seeking to block the rules.

The moves will put pressure on the administration from the two other branches of government and, if successful on either front, could cast uncertainty over the rules into the next presidential administration.

The legal challengers are expected to contest the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority on a range of grounds, some of them little explored by the courts. Industry associations and companies, including coal producer Murray Energy, also began filing separate cases.

In the works since 2013 and issued in early August, the regulations require a 32% cut in power-plant carbon emissions by 2030 based on emissions levels of 2005. They are designed to force the utility industry, the largest source of U.S. carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, to shift toward cleaner-burning energy sources over the next several decades.

The EPA is relying upon a seldom-used section of the Clean Air Act called 111(d) as its authority for the rules, which leaves an opening for legal scrutiny.

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