A U.S. appeals court on Friday granted a request from the Trump administration to issue a hold on a legal challenge to former President Obama’s regulations targeted at reducing greenhouse emissions, primarily from coal-fired power plants.
The legal challenge, brought by industry and a group of states and known as the Clean Power Plan, was put in abeyance for at least 60 days by a 10-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court also requested that the administration and other associated parties file briefs addressing whether the case should be sent back to the Environmental Protection Agency.
In 2016, the Supreme Court put the Obama regulations on hold pending the outcome of the case.
The same court issued a separate order on Friday which put on hold litigation challenging Obama climate regulations targeting new power plants.
The regulations were challenged by 27 states, and led by industry groups and coal-producer West Virginia. Environmental groups and other states supported the Obama regulations.
A previous proponent of Obama’s initiative, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, weighed in on the court’s action.
“Today’s temporary pause in the litigation does not relieve EPA of its legal obligation to limit carbon pollution from its largest source: fossil-fueled power plants,” Schneiderman said. “I will continue to fight in court to ensure EPA fulfills its legal responsibility.”
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who led the challenge against the regulations, said Friday’s decision indicated that the court has recognized the change in the political atmosphere “and that a decision on the merits is not appropriate at this time.”
President Trump signed an executive order Friday as another component of his coordinated effort to cut federal environmental regulations and reinvigorate the energy drilling and coal mining industries.
According to Reuters, “The Clean Power Plan was designed to lower carbon emissions from existing U.S. power plants by 2030 to 32 percent below 2005 levels. It was seen as the main tool for the United States to meet the emissions-reduction target it promised to reach at U.N. climate talks in Paris in December 2015. Power plants are the largest source of U.S. carbon emissions.”
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