Scott Pruitt wants to end his own Clean Power Plan lawsuit—but can’t set aside EPA’s duty to protect the public from climate pollution

By Martha Roberts

(This post was co-authored by Tomas Carbonell)

Before he became Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt was relentless in suing to oppose the Clean Power Plan, America’s first-ever nationwide limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

So relentless, in fact, that as Attorney General of Oklahoma he brought suit four times to block these common sense, cost-effective protections—including litigating to block the proposal, before the Clean Power Plan was even finalized.

Given that history, you’d think that Pruitt would be eager to for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court to continue the current litigation over the Clean Power Plan, which Pruitt helped initiate when he was Attorney General.

Instead, the Trump Administration launched a full-court press to stop the court’s deliberations in their tracks.

The administration filed a motion on March 28 asking the court to suspend the litigation indefinitely – almost a year after the last briefs were filed in the case, and more than six months after oral argument took place before the full en banc court.

Why the sudden aversion to the court considering the case, after such a long history of litigating?

Perhaps Pruitt was afraid that the court would see the Clean Power Plan for what it is – a common sense and achievable plan, firmly grounded in the law and in science, which responds to the most urgent environmental challenge of our time.

Pruitt repeatedly argues that the reason to repeal the Clean Power Plan is because it is “illegal.” Without a D.C. Circuit opinion, all we have are his own claims on that point – and maybe Pruitt prefers it that way, given his poor record in past legal challenges to common sense EPA safeguards.

Whatever the reason, Pruitt pressed ahead to stop the very same case he was instrumental in creating. Last week, the D.C. Circuit partially granted his request. The court put the Clean Power Plan litigation on hold for 60 days, and asked for more information so it can decide how to handle the case going forward.

EPA has a duty to protect Americans from dangerous climate pollution

While last week’s order is disappointing, it has not changed the fact that EPA has a clear duty to act under our nation’s clean air laws to protect the public from harmful climate pollution. That duty is enshrined in three separate Supreme Court opinions that confirm EPA has the authority and responsibility to address climate pollution under the Clean Air Act.

EPA’s obligation to address climate pollution under the Clean Air Act is a settled question in American law. And EPA’s history of successfully addressing climate pollution from cars and other sources speaks for itself.

The Clean Power Plan itself has a rock solid legal and technical foundation – as recognized by a huge and varied coalition of supporters including former Republican EPA Administrators, the attorneys general of eighteen states, legal experts who helped draft the Clean Air Act, and the nation’s leading experts on the power grid.

As these experts recognize, the Clean Power Plan relies on strategies that are already being deployed successfully across the power sector—continuing and amplifying a transition to low- and zero-carbon energy that is reducing climate-destabilizing pollution while bringing jobs and economic opportunities to communities across the country. America’s clean energy sector is a rapidly growing $200-billion industry that employs 3.3 million Americans.

Regardless of any legal maneuvers, the fundamental truth remains – EPA has a duty to act to protect the public from dangerous climate pollution. Given the clear and present threat that climate change poses to the well-being of communities across America, this duty is urgent.

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Organic standards under attack in the field and in Washington, D.C.

The new federal organics rule covers a whole array of housing, husbandry, and management topics, including the prohibition of certain painful practices, like tail docking of pigs and cattle and debeaking of birds.

The new federal organics rule covers a whole array of housing, husbandry, and management topics, including the prohibition of certain painful practices, like tail docking of pigs and cattle and debeaking of birds. Photo by Mary Beth Sweetland/The HSUS

The “organic” market is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the food industry – generating more than $40 billion in sales last year alone. But increasingly, consumers want to know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program has integrity and meaning and that producers invoking the federal government’s label are honoring the standards. . . . 

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Los Angeles to ban use of all wild animals in circuses

Wild animals in circuses are trained with pain and the fear of punishment, caged and chained in trucks and trailers, forced to endure months of grueling travel, and bullied to perform silly tricks.

Wild animals in circuses are trained with pain and the fear of punishment, caged and chained in trucks and trailers, forced to endure months of grueling travel, and bullied to perform silly tricks. Photo by Alamy

The city council of the nation’s second largest city – and the capital of the entertainment industry – today unanimously voted to ban the exhibition of wild or exotic animals for entertainment, including circuses, other wild animal shows, displays in public areas such as on sidewalks or parks, and rentals for house parties or events. . . . 

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Mexico adopts felony-level penalties for dogfighting

The Mexican law will have a beneficial impact on our work to stop dogfighters in the United States, where dogfighting is a felony in every state, and a federal felony. For years, American-based dogfighters have trekked to Mexico to avoid law enforcement in the United States.

The Mexican law will have a beneficial impact on our work to stop dogfighters in the United States, where dogfighting is a felony in every state, and a federal felony. For years, American-based dogfighters have trekked to Mexico to avoid law enforcement in the United States. Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

In a groundbreaking victory for countless dogs caught up in Mexico’s animal fighting trade, the nation’s Senate has put the final stamp of approval on a comprehensive law that bans all dogfighting in the country and establishes tough penalties, including imprisonment and fines, for anyone involved in dogfighting activities like organizing fights, owning or trading . . . 

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Trump should leave national monuments alone

President Theodore Roosevelt invoked the Antiquities Act in 1906 to protect Devils Tower in Wyoming.  In recent years, we’ve seen other extraordinary designations by our presidents.

President Theodore Roosevelt invoked the Antiquities Act in 1906 to protect Devils Tower in Wyoming. In recent years, we’ve seen other extraordinary designations by our presidents. Photo by Avery Locklear/NPS

It is unsettling that President Trump has called for a review of protected areas established by his predecessors under the Antiquities Act. Set-asides of the last, best places in the United States, both terrestrial and marine environments, has been a legacy for both Republican and Democrat presidents, and the Antiquities Act has been a critical . . . 

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