WASHINGTON — The centerpiece of the Obama administration’s effort to tackle climate change is facing a high-profile legal test as a federal appeals court considers a plan that has triggered furious opposition from Republicans, industry figures and coal-reliant states.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit hears arguments Thursday in two cases challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s ambitious proposal to slash carbon pollution from the nation’s coal-fired power plants that is blamed for global warming.
The lawsuits – one from a coalition of 15 states and another brought by Murray Energy Corp., the nation’s largest privately held coal mining company – are part of a growing political attack from opponents who say the move is illegal and will kill jobs, cripple demand for coal and drive up electricity prices.
The rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency last year requires states to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
EPA officials say the rule would protect public health, fight climate change and lower electricity costs by 8 percent by 2030.
But a backlash has been building. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sent a letter urging the governors of all 50 states to defy the EPA by refusing to submit the compliance plans.