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Federal Court Denies Appeal of EPA Climate Rule

A federal appeals court declined requests Wednesday to block the Obama administration’s landmark climate rule for power plants.

In a short, two-paragraph order filed just after 5 p.m., the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that West Virginia, more than a dozen other states and a coal-mining company do not qualify for a judicial stay that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing the regulation until the litigation is complete.

The three-judge panel ordered that the petitions be denied “because petitioners have not satisfied the stringent standards that apply to petitions for extraordinary writs that seek to stay agency action.

It’s the first major loss for the conservative states since President Obama announced the final version of the regulation in early August. It seeks a 32 percent slash in the power sector’s carbon emissions by 2030.

As a result of the ruling, states will have to wait until the EPA publishes the final rule in the Federal Register, which it plans to do by the end of October, to file a lawsuit against it and ask for a judicial stay.

Earlier this year, West Virginia challenged the EPA’s climate rule before it was made final. The same judges of the D.C. Circuit Court ruled in the EPA’s favor then, saying that proposed rules cannot be challenged in court.

The states filed for the judicial stay in August, only four days after Obama announced the new rule, and argued that the matter was so urgent that it demanded the court’s immediate attention before the EPA could publish the regulation.

The EPA said the challenge was premature.  “Publication in the Federal Register… has not yet occurred,” EPA lawyers offered. “Thus, both the plain terms of the Act and this Court’s binding precedent compel dismissal of these petitions.”