Clean Power Plan Suit Shelved Short of Resolution by U.S. Court


President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the Clean Power Plan at the White House in Washington on Aug. 3, 2015.

President Donald Trump won a court bid that will allow him to rescind the Obama administration’s plan for weaning American power producers off of coal and other fossil fuels, a potential prelude to repealing that initiative.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Friday shelved lawsuits over the plan’s legality without deciding that issue and over the objections of environmental groups, 18 states and cities including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia that defended the regulatory package known as the Clean Power Plan.

Killing the plan will make it more difficult for the U.S. to meet greenhouse gas reduction commitments it, and more than 143 other nations, made at a 2015 Paris summit.

The courts’ ruling follows Trump’s March 28 executive order directing U.S. agency heads to review existing regulations that “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s request that the court put the 2015 case on hold was filed the same day.

A 10-judge panel had heard arguments over the measure in September. Among those leading the legal assault were West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who was first to sue, and Pruitt, then Oklahoma’s attorney general, who was second. Twenty-five other mostly Republican-led states joined in, although North Carolina dropped out this year.

The case is West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, 15-1363, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia (Washington).