Labor and Other Clean Power Groups Prepare for New Chapter.
(from Texas Lawyer, March 27, 2017)
With President Donald Trump poised to upend one of his predecessor's signature enviromental policies this week, lawyers in the long legal battle over the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan were busy Monday preparing their next moves.
Many of the lawyers in the fight had already begun writing motions and responses, even before Scott Pruitt, the Trump-appointed director of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced that the White House would issue an executive order on Tuesday withdrawing the Clean Power Plan.
"I'm looking at draft briefs in support of the withdrawal, said Eugene Marc Trisko, who represents labor unions opposed to the plan. His clients have joined forces with utility companies and 24 states that sued beginning in 2014 to oppose the plan in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
"You can be sure that the environmental community is hard at work in drafting its opposition" to the Trump administration's order, Trisko added.
"We oppose the Trump Administration's misguided attack on the Clean Power Plan, and when the administration files something in court, we will respond appropriately," said Mary Whittle, a staff Attorney for EarthJustice in Austin.
First, however, Trump's U.S. Department of Justice must ask the court to put the case in abeyance and halt all proceedings and rulings.
For Trisko's clients, opposition to the Clean Power Plan, which would set the first-ever national standards addressing carbon pollution from power plants, hinges on jobs.
"In the last four years, the coal sector has lost more than 60,000 megawatts of generating capacity," Trisko said. The lion's share of that decline is directly related to regulation, he said. As a result of limits on carbon emissions, conservative estimates show 100,000 coal jobs lost, he said. (Others cite the lower cost of natural gas power and other economic forces as driving coal's decline.)
If the Clean Power Plan's regulations became effective and enforceable, another 60,000 megawatts of generating capacity from the coal industry is projected to disappear and along with it, probably another 100,000 jobs, Trisko said.
"That why these labor unions litigated against the Clean Power Plan and will welcome the executive order calling to reconsider it," Trisko said.
Will the unions line up and sign onto a motion with the utility companies, as they have in previous briefs in the case pending before the D.C. Circuit?
Trisko said which of the various groups opposing the Clean Power Plan will file joint motions and which will file separately will not become solidified until the goverment and the environmental groups first submit their briefs.
So for now, all arguments are in draft form only with no signatories yet, he said.