May 23, 2016

U.S. Court Delays Arguments On EPA’s Costly, Unnecessary Clean Power Plan

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week announced that, instead of having a three-judge panel hear a legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) this June, the full court will hear the arguments in September. 

While it is unclear why the court made this decision, it is a sign of the importance of the case and signals a willingness on the part of the court to streamline the litigation. However, as Bloomberg points out, “More broadly, [this move] provides even more evidence the Clean Power Plan is going to be in flux come Jan. 21, 2017; the next president is really going to decide how this shakes out.” 

As a reminder, federal courts have barred the CPP from taking effect until legal challenges to it are exhausted. That is good news because, as the litigation against the rule moves forward, more evidence came out last week proving that this rule would have a significant impact on consumers, businesses, and the U.S. economy—without doing much to help the environment. The Energy Information Administration, a federal agency, last week released its 2016 Annual Energy Outlook, which found the CPP will have significantly greater economic impacts on the U.S. economy than the EPA has projected. For example, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, EIA projected that electricity bills (not just rates) will increase under the CPP even though the EPA has claimed bills would go down significantly. The EIA also projected the CPP will have a major impact on coal production, reduce gross domestic production by an average of about $60 billion, and result in about 375,000 fewer jobs in 2030 than if the rule weren’t in place. 

Those costs come despite the fact that, also according to the EIA, carbon emissions would decline regardless of whether the CPP is put into place.