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Court Lets NC Withdraw Challenge To Clean Power Plan

Michael Regan
N.C. Department of Environmental Quality

A federal appeals court has granted a request by the state Department of Environmental Quality to withdraw its legal challenge to former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan. The move comes amid a changing of the guard in both Raleigh and Washington, where the Trump administration has said it plans to cancel the rules.

Obama's Environmental Protection Agency announced the Clean Power Plan in 2015. It lets states adopt an EPA-designed plan or develop their own plans for cutting carbon dioxide emissions, mainly at coal-burning power plants.

State officials under former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory had joined more than two dozen other states in suing the EPA. They argued the rules were unconstitutional and would lead to higher energy bills.

But last month, state Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, asked the court for permission to withdraw, on behalf of environmental secretary Michael Regan.  Regan is a former environmental advocate who worked at both the EPA and the Environmental Defense Fund.  

Meanwhile, the Trump administration and EPA chief Scott Pruitt have said they want to cancel the Obama-era plan. Given that, Regan said it makes no sense to continue spending taxpayer dollars on a court fight.

“We are pleased the court granted our motion to withdraw from this case,” Regan said in a press release. “We did not feel this case was a good use of our agency’s or taxpayers’ resources, and it did not align with our mission. This will enable us to devote more of our time and energy toward protection of air, water and natural resources.”  

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.