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States, others urge court to resume consideration of US EPA's Clean Power Plan

Dozens of U.S. states, cities and counties, and environmental and public health groups urged a federal appellate court to end a more than one-year suspension of its consideration of the legality of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit should reject EPA's request for the court to continue to suspend its consideration of the case until the agency finalizes a rulemaking that has not even been proposed yet to replace the Clean Power Plan, a coalition of states and municipalities led by New York Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a May 9 court filing. A number of environmental and public health organizations in a May 9 filing also urged the court to reject the EPA's request.

The agency provided no new information in its latest status report beyond noting the public comment period on the proposal to revoke the Clean Power Plan ended in April, the state and municipal coalition said. Moreover, they noted that the EPA did not indicate when it might finalize the revocation rulemaking or publish a proposed rule to replace the regulation.

"EPA's apparent lack of urgency in considering a potential replacement rule ... undermines the credibility of the agency's request," the coalition said.

EPA issued the Clean Power Plan in 2015 to cut carbon from existing fossil fuel power plants but under the leadership of Scott Pruitt has moved to revoke the measure on the grounds the rule exceeds the EPA's statutory authority. Meanwhile, states are forging ahead on their own emissions reduction goals and a number of them have already achieved levels well beyond those that would be required under the Clean Power Plan.

The environmental, public health and state and municipal groups all said if the court decides to further delay a ruling on the case it should only do so for another 60 days and direct EPA to continue to file regular status reports.

Separate from the court case, the EPA on May 9 indicated it plans to issue a proposed replacement rule in June and repeal the Clean Power Plan in December.