WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out a pair of high-profile lawsuits challenging the Obama administration’s sweeping plan to address climate change, saying it’s too early to challenge a proposed rule that isn’t yet final.
The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is a temporary setback to opponents of the plan who are expected to renew their legal attack once the regulation is finalized later this year.
The lawsuits from a coalition of 15 states and the nation’s largest privately held coal mining company claim the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority last year when it proposed the far-reaching plan to curb pollution from the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
Opponents had argued that even though the rule is not yet final, they are already facing steep costs to get ready for it. But the appeals court said that has never before been a justification for a court to examine a proposed rule that could still be changed before it becomes a final regulation.
“They want us to do something that they candidly acknowledge we have never done before,” wrote Judge Brett Kavanaugh. “We do not have authority to review proposed agency rules.”
The rule the EPA proposed last year would require states to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Each state has a customized target and is responsible for drawing up an effective plan to meet its goal.