However, last week – after President Trump signed an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the Clean Power Plan and decide whether to "suspend, rescind, or revise" it – EPA filed a motion asking the court to hold the litigation in abeyance while the Agency reconsiders the rule.
"The law is clear: the EPA must limit carbon pollution from power plants," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "In order to repeal Obama-era protections, the Trump Administration must replace those protections, as well -- and we know how well repeal-and-replace went the first time around. My office will continue to defend the Clean Power Plan and aggressively oppose any effort to stand down from our shared responsibility to protect our environment and our climate."
Granting abeyance likely would stay the litigation for years – indefinitely delaying the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, which is critical to mitigating climate change's increasing harm to states' public health, environments, and economies. EPA is required under the Clean Air Act to control emissions of climate change pollution from power plants, the country's largest source. The Clean Power Plan represents the culmination of a multi-year stakeholder process and is expected to eliminate as much climate change pollution as is emitted by over 160 million cars a year (or 70 percent of the nation's passenger cars).
As the coalition of 24 states and localities stated in its filing, "EPA fails to justify its unprecedented request for an open-ended abeyance at this late stage of litigation: more than six months after the en banc Court heard a full day of oral argument. This case is ripe for decision now, and nothing that EPA has proposed to do obviates the need for this Court's review.
"To the contrary, a decision from this Court will resolve critical live disputes over the scope of the Clean Air Act that will not only determine the enforcement of the Clean Power Plan, but also affect any reconsideration or revision of the Rule that EPA may undertake. By contrast, indefinitely deferring a decision here, as EPA requests, would waste the substantial resources already expended in this litigation by the parties and this Court. Moreover, granting EPA's motion would prejudice State Intervenors' longstanding and compelling interest in addressing the largest sources of pollution that is causing climate-change harms now."
The opposition was filed by the Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Washington State as well as the chief legal officers of New York City (NY), Boulder (CO), Chicago (IL), Philadelphia (PA), South Miami (FL), and Broward County (FL).