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Indiana among states asking for stay of EPA power plant rule

January 27, 2016

A multistate coalition that includes Indiana has asked the Supreme Court of the United States to grant a temporary stay of a new EPA rule requiring existing power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The coalition, which now includes 29 states and state agencies, filed a legal challenge to the rule in October, contending the Environmental Protection Agency has exceeding the authority Congress granted it under the Clean Air Act by imposing a burdensome rule that would force states to reorganize their energy generation and distribution systems. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the group’s request for a temporary stay on Jan. 21, so the states are asking the Supreme Court to overrule the federal ruling and stay enforcement of the EPA rule while the underlying legal challenge is being litigated, according to an update from the Indiana Attorney General’s office.

The motion has been assigned to U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who handles emergency appeals of cases from the D.C. Circuit. He could decide the issue on his own, or he could refer it to the full court for consideration.

If the stay is not granted, then the plaintiffs would be required to submit compliance plans to EPA by September 2016 or ask for an extension, or the EPA could impose plans upon them.

The EPA’s new rule under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act affects existing power plants already in operation, requiring them to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions nationwide by 32 percent overall from 2005 levels by the year 2030. For Indiana, the reduction mandated by the EPA’s 111(d) rule would require carbon dioxide reductions from power plants of an estimated 30 percent to 38 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

“Granting a stay is necessary and completely appropriate now given the extraordinarily complicated burdens this EPA rule would impose. Without a stay during litigation, states and their utility ratepayers would have to absorb these burdens through higher energy costs under the EPA’s unrealistic timetable – and if the states later win their legal challenge, then the economic harm already will have been done,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who is representing Indiana in the lawsuit.
 

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