The Environmental Protection Agency’s air chief sparred with the Republican chairman of a House energy panel Wednesday on the legality of the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s climate plan.
Janet McCabe, whose office is in charge of implementing the Clean Power Plan, said the agency is not violating the law by moving ahead on rules related to the plan, despite a Supreme Court stay of the landmark regulation.
“Taking this action is not inconsistent with the stay,” said McCabe, while being questioned by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy and power panel.
“The stay precludes EPA from implementing the Clean Power Plan. EPA is doing nothing to implement the Clean Power Plan,” she said.
The Clean Power Plan was halted by the Supreme Court in February until all judicial review over the legality of the regulation has concluded. A federal appeals court will hear challenges to the regulation in the fall, with more than two dozen states, industry and union groups opposing the plan, which directs states to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.
Most of the states opposing the Clean Power Plan say it violates the Constitution and exceeds the limits of EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act.
But McCabe refuted Whitfield’s prodding that the court stayed the rule due to its illegality. “They gave no indication of their reasoning. No court has spoken to the substance,” she said.
“But your interpretation is that it was so important they stayed it?” Whitfield asked.
McCabe answered: “That’s how I understand it. Courts do sometimes stay regulations while they are going through review.”
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