EPA is reminded that Power Plan enforcement violates SCOTUS order

Back in January, 26 states asked the Supreme Court to put a halt to the EPA’s new “Clean Power” Plan based on the extraordinary cost it imposed on states, stress to the power grid and a variety of other factors. The Court agreed to that request, instructing the involved parties to put on the brakes until ongoing litigation made its way through the court system. Unfortunately, EPA chief Gina McCarthy never seemed to get the memo and the agency has continued work on the program, drafting plans to reward states which exceed the mandated targets in carbon emissions and punishing those who do not.

As the Daily Caller reports, two state Attorneys General have now taken the EPA to task, reminding them that they are acting in direct defiance of an order from the Supreme Court.

The Republican attorney generals of Texas and West Virginia are demanding the Obama administration stop working on its signature global warming regulation, which they argue violates a Supreme Court order.

“Their efforts and those of your agency to try to make the Power Plan a fait accompli fail to accord proper respect for the Supreme Court’s unprecedented decision to halt the Power Plan—a decision that divests this agency of authority to enforce the rule and calls into serious question the rule’s legality,” AGs Ken Paxton of Texas and Patrick Morrisey of W. Virginia sent in a letter Monday to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Morrisey and Paxton ask the EPA to stop working on aspects of its so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) despite a Supreme Court ruling in February ordering the agency to halt implementing the rule. Most recently, EPA officials have started to craft a green energy incentive program to reward states that reduce emissions beyond their federal mandate.

In more normal times I would take this as good news, but the word “normal” doesn’t seem to cross paths with the Environmental Protection Agency very often these days. We’re in the final mad dash to the finish line as far as the Obama Administration is concerned and they have plenty of “legacy” targets left to hit. Whether or not they will actually obey a direct order from the Supreme Court remains, in my opinion, an open question.

As to how they’re trying to get around it, the EPA is using a request from more than a dozen states seeking clarification as to how the Clean Power Plan must be implemented as an excuse to continue the work.

In April, 14 state environmental regulators sent EPA a letter asking for “additional information and technical assistance related to the final Clean Power Plan.” The 14 state officials acknowledged the court stay, but asked the EPA to use taxpayer dollars to continue working on the CPP.

EPA used the letter as a pretext to continue working on parts of the rule, arguing the court stay does not bar them from working with states that want to voluntarily comply with the CPP.

How this line of argument passes muster is a bit of a mystery. It’s absolutely true that any of the states can implement their own environmental quality plans in accordance with state laws if they wish, but that’s not a federal issue. They can’t be implementing anything which is in compliance with the EPA directive when that directive is not yet approved or active. In that regard, having the EPA spend taxpayer resources on such work seems to be in direct conflict with the court’s order.

The hilarious part of all this is that Gina McCarthy was asked back in February if she planned on complying with the court order and she literally responded by saying, “Are we going to respect the decision of the Supreme Court? You bet, of course we are.” Yet that answer was followed with the inevitable “But…” and a string of reasons why she planned to do the exact opposite.

In retrospect, I suppose we should have seen this coming.