D.C. Circuit Extends Pause in Litigation on Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit announced that it will extend a pause in litigation over America’s first nationwide carbon pollution standards for new, modified, and reconstructed fossil fuel-fired power plants.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit issued the order keeping the litigation in abeyance indefinitely.

“The carbon pollution standards for new, modified, and reconstructed power plants are already working to protect American families and communities from the dangerous pollution that causes climate change,” said Tomás Carbonell, Directory of Regulator Policy and Lead Attorney for Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to the case. “Today’s decision allows those standards to remain in full force and effect.”

The case in question, North Dakota v. EPA, challenges the first-ever nationwide limits on carbon pollution from new, modified, and reconstructed fossil fuel-fired power plants. The standards are in effect now, protecting Americans from the pollution that causes climate change. They will remain in effect while the case works its way through the courts.

A broad coalition is supporting the standards in court, including 18 states, the District of Columbia and the City of New York, seven power companies, and eight public health and environmental organizations (including EDF).

In today’s order, the court told EPA to file updates on its progress every 90 days beginning October 27th.

The order came less than two days after the en banc D.C. Circuit granted a temporary extension of abeyance in litigation on the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan applies to existing power plants, and was stayed by the Supreme Court in February, 2016. In contrast to the indefinite abeyance ordered by the three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit today, the full D.C. Circuit extended abeyance in the Clean Power Plan case for only 60 days.

Tuesday’s order in the Clean Power Plan case was accompanied by a statement by two judges reiterating that EPA has an “affirmative statutory obligation to regulate greenhouse gases” under the landmark Supreme Court decision Massachusetts v. EPA.

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