Inhofe Requests Further Clarification on EPA Response to Supreme Court Stay of the Clean Power Plan
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, sent a letter today to Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeking further clarification on the agency’s actions related to the Clean Power Plan after the United States Supreme Court issued a historic stay against the regulation in February. A May 16 letter from Attorney’s General Patrick Morrisey and Ken Paxton revealed that the EPA’s response to an earlier letter on the matter was based on an incorrect legal assertion:
“On March 10, 2016, I requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) answer several important questions regarding the Supreme Court’s February 9, 2016, stay against the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Today, I write in response to your April 18, 2016, correspondence on that matter. According to recent correspondence from the Attorneys General in West Virginia and Texas, the agency’s response was based on an incorrect reading of their legal briefs,” Inhofe said in the letter.
Inhofe continued in the letter, “The agency’s response also ignores existing law. The law is clear that the Supreme Court’s grant of a stay inherently extends the rule’s deadlines to preserve the ‘status quo,’ which pauses implementation of the rule in its entirety until completion of judicial review.”
“I remain concerned that your response to my letter and EPA’s continued public statements refusing to acknowledge the clear impact of the Supreme Court’s stay are not helpful to states, and erroneously encourages the spending of limited state resources to devise compliance strategies for a rule whose deadlines are tolled, and very likely will be overturned. Moreover, given the legal precedence and the positions of EPA and DOJ in numerous legal briefs that preservation of the status quo requires that a stay order also extend that regulation’s compliance deadline, as well as the recent correspondence from Attorneys General Morrisey and Paxton, I again request complete and thorough responses to the following requests no later than June 21, 2016” Inhofe concluded the letter.
Requests made in the letter:
In the event that the CPP is upheld, will EPA abide by the tolling requirements inherent in the Supreme Court’s Stay decision, thereby extending all compliance dates by the number of days between the CPP’s October 18, 2015 federal register publication date and the eventual lifting of the Stay by the Supreme Court?
- In your April 18 letter you stated the following:
“EPA has made clear that implementation and enforcement of the Clean Power Plan are on hold. This means that during the pendency of the stay, states are not required to submit anything to EPA, and EPA will not take any action to impose or enforce any such obligations.”
On April 27, 2016, EPA sent its Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) over to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review and in preparation for publication in the federal register. EPA has also made clear its intent to continue work and finalize its model trading rules. These EPA actions compel states to spend their resources reviewing, preparing and filing comments on the CEIP or reviewing and preparing judicial challenges to the federal plan, otherwise states would lose important legal rights. How does forcing states to conduct such activity comport with your statement that EPA is not taking any action or imposing any obligation on states?
- Additionally, describe clearly and in detail what CPP planning efforts continue, and what work has been halted, including:
- Does the agency plan to continue work on and finalize the proposed CPP model rule and the proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program? If so, why and by what authority?
- How much funding is currently being allocated to CPP implementation-related activities, and how many full-time equivalents (FTEs) are working on the Rule? How does this current resource allocation compare to allocations prior to the Stay, and how does the Agency plan to adjust projected FY 2017 funding and activities in light of the Stay?
To read the full text of the letter, click here.
On Thursday, the Senate EPW Committee held a full committee hearing entitled, Implications of the Supreme Court Stay on the Clean Power Plan, to assess the status of the Clean Power Plan and how the states are responding to the Supreme Court’s decision.