Wind, solar interests file brief supporting Clean Power Plan

Various renewable energy groups filed legal arguments supporting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Clean Power Plan March 29 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

A joint brief was filed by Advanced Energy Economy, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in support of the EPA rule that would have states cut power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) 32% 2030.

The three trade groups together represent more than 3,000 companies and organizations in the advanced energy sector, a $200bn industry in the United States, according to the legal document.

The parties are all intervening in West Virginia et al. versus U.S. EPA No. 15-1363 (and consolidated cases). The EPA rule to cut CO2 from existing generation sources was formally issued by the agency on Oct. 23, 2015.

About half of the states, however, subsequently filed legal appeals of the rule. The U.S. Supreme Court in February took the unusual step of staying the rule until the rule until it is litigated.

Oral arguments are scheduled June 2 before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

While critics of the rule maintain that EPA is overstepping its authority, the renewable energy trade groups said that Section 111 of the Clean Air Act “speaks directly” to emissions of CO2.

“The record demonstrates that EPA’s determination of the “best” system of emission reduction, and the Building Blocks in particular, was eminently reasonable,” the renewable energy trade groups said.

“The agency, moreover, reasonably and explicitly concluded that increasing generation from lower- and zero-emitting sources would not negatively impact electricity reliability,” the trade groups said.

“Petitioners’ cherry-picked statements from the record and extra-record evidence miss the mark entirely,” according to the renewable trade groups.

“To the contrary, EPA’s targets are consistent with proven, well established practices in the industry and in line with current industry trends,” the renewable groups said in the brief. “This Court should therefore sustain the Rule and decline Petitioners’ invitation to “substitute its judgment for that of the agency.”

The renewable trade groups argue that the court can reverse only if EPA’s action was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”

The trade groups also say that EPA took into account grid reliability issues. In addition, EPA reasonably concluded that emissions trading would ease the cost of compliance, the trade groups said.

The renewable energy trade groups filed their brief one day after U.S. government attorneys filed a brief defending the Clean Power Plan on behalf of EPA.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at