This month, legal action on U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan heated up with a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to deny a request for a stay of the rule and a subsequent request filed with the Supreme Court to weigh in on the stay. On today's The Cutting Edge, Greenwire reporter Robin Bravender discusses the challenges facing petitioners as legal proceedings move forward quickly. She also weighs in on the role politics are playing in the court filings.
Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to The Cutting Edge. Legal action on the Clean Power Plan heating up with the decision by the D.C. Circuit to deny a stay request, and now action moving quickly to the Supreme Court. Greenwire's Robin Bravender has been covering all aspects of the legal proceedings on the rule. Robin, let's begin with this latest move by petitioners requesting that the Supreme Court weight in on a stay. Things are moving quickly here. How has the court responded and what kind of timeline are we looking at?
Robin Bravender: There's been a lot of activity lately. It all started last week just before Snowzilla hit D.C. We saw an order from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals refusing to block the administration's Clean Power Plan. They basically said that petitioners hadn't met the stringent requirements needed for them to step in and halt the rule. And then this week after that we saw 25 states petition Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court asking him to step in and block the rule. Shortly after that we saw utilities and business groups and coal groups also ask the Supreme Court to step in. So Chief Justice Roberts has asked the administration to respond by next Thursday, so we'll see what they have to say about this. Presumably they'll oppose a stay to their rule. And then after that the chief justice could ask his colleagues to weigh in or he could issue something on his own. My sources are expecting him to ask his colleagues to weigh in, just given the complexity and the high stakes in this rule.
Monica Trauzzi: Right, and it's an unusual request. So what are you hearing behind the scenes from your sources about the motivation surrounding the request to move this all the way to the high court?
Robin Bravender: A lot of people see this as purely political posturing just given the costs and the politics involving this rule, but other folks are saying, you know, this rule is so important, the stakes are so high, and the Supreme Court is expected to weigh in eventually, that they might decide to step in and stop this rule.
Monica Trauzzi: The D.C. Circuit in its decision chose not to bifurcate certain issues. How complex then does this make the case?
Robin Bravender: This case was bound to be complex to begin with. We've got nearly 40 petitioners challenging this rule, 40 separately lawsuits by nearly 160 different parties, all with different arguments against the rule. But petitioners have basically asked the court to break it up into two pieces: first into fundamental legal issues surrounding the legality of the rule to begin with, and then secondly sort of state-specific issues, smaller issues. EPA said that that would make the whole case take even longer, and the D.C. Circuit seemed to agree with them and refused to break it up that way.
Monica Trauzzi: April deadline for briefs, oral arguments June 2nd, so things are moving quickly. How are stakeholders responding and reacting to the panel of judges that are going to be hearing the case?
Robin Bravender: This panel of three judges was seen as a lucky draw for the administration. We've got two Democratic appointees, one Clinton appointee, another appointee from President Obama. The third is seen as more conservative, but the case is so complicated with so many issues that it's really not seen as a given where the court will weigh in ultimately. And eventually this case is probably headed to the Supreme Court anyway.
Monica Trauzzi: All right, Robin. We'll be watching it all. Thanks for coming on the show.
Robin Bravender: Thanks, Monica.
Monica Trauzzi: More Cutting Edge coming next Friday. We'll see you then.
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