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17 States Raise Hell Over Clean Power Plan

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The group of 17 states which backed the Clean Power Plan filed a legal challenge Wednesday urging the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to ignore the Trump administration's request to stay legal proceedings in the Clean Power Plan suit.


The challenge alleges that the federal government has a responsibility to regulate emissions from power plants and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "vague" plans to review the Clean Power Plan could cause an "indefinite delay" in the process.

"EPA fails to justify its unprecedented request for an open-ended abeyance at this late stage of litigation: more than six months after the en banc court heard a full day of oral argument," the states wrote.

"This case is ripe for decision now, and nothing that EPA has proposed to do obviates the need for this court's review. Indefinitely deferring a decision here, as EPA requests, would waste the substantial resources already expended in this litigation by the parties and this court."

Environmental groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed a similar brief Wednesday, saying the delay "would have the effect of improperly suspending the rule without review by any court, without any explanation and without mandatory administrative process. The agency cannot be allowed to accomplish through abeyance something it cannot do on its own: an indefinite suspension of a duly promulgated rule without judicial review, without a notice and comment rulemaking and without any reasoned explanation."

The coalition of states include attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington—along with the District of Columbia and other smaller localities.

"The law is clear: the EPA must limit carbon pollution from power plants," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. "In order to repeal Obama-era protections, the Trump administration must replace those protections, as well—and we know how well repeal-and-replace went the first time around. My office will continue to defend the Clean Power Plan and aggressively oppose any effort to stand down from our shared responsibility to protect our environment and our climate."

For a deeper dive:

Reuters, The Hill, Politico Pro

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Protesters gathered outside US Bank and Wells Fargo locations around the U.S. to protest investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline on Dec. 1, 2016. This photo is from a protest outside US Bank in south Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Jake Johnson

As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.


Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.

AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."


The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.

"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.

As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."

"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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