First Legal Challenge to the Clean Power Plan Dismissed

Guest Blog | June 9, 2015 | Coal, Energy Policy
Today, the DC Circuit dismissed the first legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The lawsuit, filed by the coal industry and several coal dependent states, claimed that EPA lacked the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. Ultimately, the DC Circuit found the legal challenge premature, given that EPA has yet to release the final version of the Clean Power Plan – which is expected to arrive in August.


It is a long established rule of law that legal challenges to agency actions are “ripe” only when a final agency action has occurred. In this case, EPA released the draft version of the Clean Power Plan in June 2014 and is not expected to release a final version of the rule until August of this year. Thus, the challenge brought by industry and states (including West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Arkansas) was premature.

Though the DC Circuit’s decision (which can be read in full here) is not surprising, it is refreshing to see the rule of law upheld in the face of legal challenges brought by some of the biggest players in the coal industry. A strong, final Clean Power Plan will be crucial in curbing our nation’s contributions to deadly climate pollution and will help our clean industry economy grow – ensuring we, as a country, do not get left behind in the global clean energy revolution.

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