This week, United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a directive to end the Obama-era “sue and settle” practice of the agency.  Under the existing practice, environmental and special interest groups sue EPA to try to force the agency to take certain actions, and the agency typically settles those lawsuits by entering into private settlement agreements and public consent decrees.  Those settlements often lead to the promulgation of environmental regulations, what Pruitt calls “the results of collusion with outside groups” that, according to him, takes place behind closed doors and excludes intervenors, interested stakeholders, and affected states from the process.  Pruitt wants to put a stop to the
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As anticipated, on October 10 the EPA signed a proposed rule to repeal the Clean Power Plan rules for existing stationary sources. The proposed rule concludes that the Clean Power Plan exceeds EPA’s authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act by regulating emissions by (among other approaches) substituting generation from lower-emitting existing natural gas combined cycle units and zero-emitting renewable energy generating capacity.

Rather, EPA has now determined that
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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced his intention to act today to sign a proposed rule that would “withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration.” This move by the agency is no surprise, given President Trump’s campaign promises to bring back coal and Pruitt’s lawsuit challenging the rule filed in his capacity as the Oklahoma Attorney General.

The goal of the Clean Power Plan rules is to significantly limit
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Power plant silhouetteEarlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an order granted EPA’s motion to hold the Clean Power Plan litigation in abeyance while EPA reviews the carbon pollution emission guidelines for existing power plants and the standards of performance of new, modified, and reconstructed power plants and, if appropriate, publishes proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules. Review of the rules is required by President Trump’s Executive Order targeting climate change regulation (discussed further here).

The motion for abeyance was opposed by numerous parties, including cities and states; Calpine Corporation and municipal power companies; the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association; and environmental organizations. They argued that
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Bob Horn
Adam Sachs
Adam Sachs

I’m Adam Sachs, a partner in Husch Blackwell’s energy practice and a registered DC lobbyist. I will be joined in these semi-regular blog posts by my colleague and longtime Washington lawyer, Bob Horn.  Bob served in the Ford administration, ran Detroit Edison’s federal affairs operations, co-founded the Republican National Lawyers Association, and most recently served as a member of the Trump transition team.  I have extensive Capitol Hill experience, having served in senior policy and legal positions since the mid-1980’s.  My most recent Hill gig was serving as committee counsel to now assistant Democratic leader James Clyburn of South Carolina.
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The United States Capitol buildingConsistent with campaign pledges from President-elect Donald Trump, Congressional Republicans are wasting no time in targeting key environmental regulations established during the Obama administration. On January 6, House Republicans used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to target the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule, finalized last year, seeking to reduce methane emissions from new, modified and reconstructed oil and gas wells.  Among other provisions, the rule established
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President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt confirms that the Trump administration and its appointees will not continue to support attempts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address climate change.  Pruitt, who has referred to the debate regarding global warming as “far from settled,” has filed several lawsuits against EPA challenging regulations that limit such emissions from the coal, oil, and natural gas industries, including an EPA rule implementing the Clean Power Plan by requiring states to
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