Some industry groups decry court decision to leave Clean Power Plan in place

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) on Jan. 21 expressed deep disappointment with a federal court’s refusal that day to halt implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan.

NRECA last November petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to stay implementation of the rule while a separate battle over its legality plays out.

“Charging ahead with implementation of the Clean Power Plan will cause immediate and irreparable harm to America’s electric co-ops,” said Debbie Wing, NRECA director of media relations. “While the rule’s emission reduction requirements don’t kick in for several years, co-ops must start taking immediate costly and irreversible steps to achieve the goals set forth in the EPA’s overreaching regulations. The result will be lost jobs, economic harm to rural communities and significant electric rate increases for some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens—families living on fixed incomes or in poverty.”

Also last November, 39 generation and transmission cooperatives joined NRECA in petitioning the court to review and ultimately reject the Clean Power Plan. A decision in this case may come later this year or in early 2017.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity said in its own Jan. 21 statement: “Today’s decision by the lower court is the first of many legal steps that will take place in the coming weeks and months as we seek to overturn Obama’s costly power plan. We remain hopeful that the court’s ultimate decision will be in favor of the best interests of the nation.”

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity is a partnership of the industries involved in producing electricity from coal.

Ohio-based coal producer Murray Energy said Jan. 21 that while it was pleased that the appeals court granted its request for expedited consideration of its lawsuit challenging the Clean Power Plan, it was disappointed that the court did not issue an immediate stay of this “disastrous” rule. So it will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. “Indeed, this lack of a stay sets up the same horrific scenario we saw in our Utility MACT lawsuit, whereby we won in the Supreme Court of the United States, but our victory was moot because the Utility MACT rule had already forced the closure of 411 coal-fired power plant units in America,” said Murray Energy.

Joanne Spalding, the Sierra Club’s Chief Climate Counsel, said in a Jan. 21 statement: “We applaud the Court’s denial of polluter-backed efforts to block the Clean Power Plan. This decision clears the way for states to continue implementing this common-sense standard. The only people who won’t be cheering this decision are those who profit from pollution and their political allies. This is just the latest attack from the fossil fuel industry on the Clean Power Plan to be rejected by a federal court, and it won’t be the last.”

Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said in a Jan. 21 statement: “The decision by the court to allow states to continue work on their carbon reduction plans under the President’s Clean Power Plan is a victory for advocates of clean energy everywhere. State regulators can now begin to incorporate a significantly growing role for solar power into their long-term energy planning. Smart industry, financial and government leaders are already betting on the Clean Power Plan by moving forward with initiatives and policies to advance a clean energy economy. The solar Investment Tax Credit extension enacted late last year is a great example of recent policy that can speed emissions reductions. The extension is a powerful job-creating engine that is leading Americans to derive a growing share of their electricity from the sun.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.