By Devin Henry – 10/28/15 06:00 AM EDT
Opponents of President Obama’s climate rule for power plants are uniting behind a legal strategy aimed at blocking the contentious regulations from taking effect.
Since a wave of nearly two-dozen lawsuits hit the Clean Power Plan last week, critics of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule have grown increasingly optimistic that they can convince a federal court to issue a stay.
A win on that front, however temporary, would complicate both the rule’s implementation and the Obama administration’s bid for an international deal at climate talks in Paris later this year.
The rule’s supporters say the litigants have a steep hill to climb in making the case for a stay, projecting confidence that they’ll win the first skirmish of what will likely be a years-long legal battle over Obama’s signature climate policy.
“Blocking rules midstream, before a court hears the merits of the case, is an extraordinary and rarely successful remedy,” Joanne Spalding, a senior managing attorney at the Sierra Club, said last week. “There is a high bar to getting a stay, and in most cases, litigants don’t even ask, and when they do, most stay requests are denied.”
Those lining up against the plan include states, businesses and commodity groups. Many have said they want a panel of federal judges to block the rule while the underlying case against it moves through the courts.
Such stay requests must overcome a series of legal hurdles, including a test of eventual success in the underlying case and evidence of harm it will cause if it’s not paused while the matter is resolved.
The first standard involves judges’ interpretations of the broader legal issues surrounding the Clean Power Plan. But officials suing to stop the rule said they expect to be able to demonstrate its potential harm.