On January 21, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied numerous requests to delay implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. While declining to put a hold on the compliance requirements of the rule pending judicial review, the court did establish an expedited schedule for consideration of the case that could result in a final decision on legal challenges before compliance deadlines pass.
As we noted in earlier reports, numerous entities–including 27 states and a variety of industry and business groups–asked the D.C. Circuit to stay compliance with the Clean Power Plan pending judicial review. The stay requests argued, in part, that the compliance deadlines in the rule1, and the significant shifts in generation and new infrastructure required to meet the rule’s carbon emissions reduction requirements, were causing immediate irreparable harm, including the expenditure of state resources to begin crafting compliance plans and the early retirement of coal-fired generation.
The D.C. Circuit did not respond directly to these and other arguments raised in the stay requests, instead following its usual practice of issuing a short order, stating only that “Petitioners have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review.”
The court did, however, take the step of establishing an expedited scheduling for consideration of the merits of the various legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan. Under that schedule, briefing will move swiftly through the spring, and oral argument will be conducted on June 2, 2016. That expedited schedule could allow the court to issue its opinion before September 6, 2016, the initial deadline for states to submit a final compliance plan or a progress report and request for additional time to develop a final compliance plan.
1 Final state compliance plans or an initial compliance plan with a request for extension must be submitted to EPA by September 6, 2016, and all completed final compliance plans must be submitted by September 6, 2018.