Obama's climate change agenda faces crucial court hearing today

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) climate change mandate goes to court yet again today, as the D.C. Court of Appeals hears oral arguments on the EPA Clean Power Plan.

The Washington Examiner reports that the Clean Power Plan:

… will face challenges from 28 states, the coal industry and more than 100 other groups.

The power plan, which the Environmental Protection Agency made law a year ago, orders states to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third by 2030 to fight global warming. It is the centerpiece of Obama's climate change agenda and the cornerstone of his effort to meet U.S. obligations under the 2015 Paris climate deal to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels worldwide.

The Washington Examiner quotes a mining industry spokesman who notes:

Even EPA admits ... that the Clean Power Plan will force the retirement of 56 coal-fired power plants by 2018[.]

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered a "temporary halt" to the Clean Power Plan this past February, "pausing the implementation ... as lawsuits proceed through federal appeals court."

As the Examiner describes, the appeals court has decided to skip the normal three-judge appeal panel and elevated the case to an "en banc" hearing by ten judges. 

Energy newsletter E&E Daily emphasizes the importance of the presidential election to this case and to the future of the Obama climate change agenda, in light of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia:

The conservative justice's death came just days after he cast a pivotal vote to stay the regulation while it's under review at the D.C. Circuit[.] ...

The Clean Power Plan's fate may now hinge on Scalia's vacant seat.

If a new justice isn't appointed by the time the case makes it to the high court, the justices could split 4-4, which would uphold the D.C. Circuit's decision. If the case is heard by a full court a ruling on the regulation could depend on which party nominates the next justice.

The massive mobilization on both sides of this case is noted by E&E Daily:

The case's formal name, West Virginia v. EPA, belies the swarm of parties deeply entrenched on each side.

After more than two dozen states, utilities and coal companies fired the first shots against the finalized rule last October, additional lawsuits came pouring in from electric cooperatives, labor groups, business associations and conservative groups.

Supporters of U.S. EPA's regulation were quick to jump in to defend it. Eighteen states lined up on EPA's side, joined by environmentalists, health groups and local governments. Clean energy groups and a collection of utilities also stepped in.

The Obama climate change regime, embodied in the Clean Power Plan, follows the mold of an EPA acting on its own ideological bent, from ruling that carbon dioxide is hazardous to human health to asserting its authority over every stream and wetland in the country, regardless of opposition.

Recent Gallup polling consistently found that just two percent of Americans believe that "environment/pollution" is the most important problem facing the country.  A Fox News poll last year, as reported by The Daily Caller, found that only three percent of those polled thought climate change was our most important issue.

Yet the president has said, "No challenge  poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change," and Secretary of State John Kerry recently called climate change "the greatest challenge of our generation."

With Congress and the courts having failed to rein in the EPA overreach, the task may fall to our next president.  The Hill reports:

Donald Trump is tapping a high-profile climate change skeptic to lead administration transition efforts for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Myron Ebell, director of energy and environment policy at the conservative think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, is heading Trump's EPA transition preparation, E&E Daily reported Monday.

Ebell is an outspoken, longtime skeptic of the scientific consensus that human activity is dramatically changing the climate.

Ebell has argued that the Clean Power Plan is illegal and that the Paris climate change agreement is unconstitutional.

The Republican presidential nominee's EPA would be responsible for implementing his ambitious agenda of dismantling major pieces of Obama's climate legacy, like the Clean Power Plan for power plants and the Paris agreement.

Mr. Trump's EPA transition appointment is a strong signal that a regulatory rollback will indeed be a high priority in a Trump administration.

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