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Clean Power Plan gets its day in court

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Clean Power Plan gets its day in court

The Clean Power Plan oral arguments were the hottest ticketin the nation's capital Sept. 27, with energy wonks, industry lawyers andpolicymakers lining up for hours ahead of the hearing on a dreary morning toget a coveted seat in the courtroom.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of ColumbiaCircuit heard a number of complex legal and constitutional issues as the enbanc panel weighed the future of the carbon-cutting rule for existing fossilfuel power plants.

Spotted in the courtroom was U.S. EPA Administrator GinaMcCarthy, who stayed through the first half of the arguments to watch hersignature climate change rule torn into before the panel of 10 D.C. Circuitjudges. She was joined by several staff members, including Janet McCabe, actingassistant administrator for the office of air and radiation. McCabe's officewas responsible for building the Clean Power Plan, and she stuck through mostof the nearly seven hours of testimony.

Also spotted was Senior Advisor to the President Brian Deese,chatting with McCarthy and laughing before the formal events kicked off. Astaffer for Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said the senator attended at least some ofthe arguments. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., who recently from his post as chairmanof the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was also in attendance.

SNL Energy was there to catch the action. Our coverage ofthe day is below.

The case against the Clean Power Plan is about whether, nothow, power plants can be regulated by the U.S. EPA for carbon dioxide emissionsto the degree mandated by the agency, petitioners argued Sept. 27 before theD.C. Circuit.

The D.C. Circuit wrapped up a marathon session of oralarguments on the Clean Power Plan late Sept. 27 by questioning opponents' claimsthat the carbon-cutting rule is unconstitutional and that the U.S. EPA failedto show its goals are achievable, among other issues.

The judges of a federal appeals court agreed thatconflicting Senate and House amendments related to two sections of the CleanAir Act are certainly confusing. But in the absence of clarity, does that meanCongress alone must speak to the issue leaving the U.S. EPA unable to use oneof those sections?

The reaction from government officials and industry groupsto oral arguments on the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan was mixed. Many of thegroups, both for and against the carbon rule, seemed confident that their sidewould prevail when the D.C. Circuit ultimately rules on the case.

Supporters and detractors of the Clean Power Plan think theD.C. Circuit appeared to agree with them as it delved into state and industrygroups' legal challenge of the U.S. EPA's carbon-cutting rule, making the CleanPower Plan's fate difficult to predict.

The U.S. EPA should not have used a banner year for windgeneration capacity additions to justify the Clean Power Plan, petitionersalleged before a federal appeals court Sept. 27.