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Coal vs the E.P.A.: D.C. Court of Appeals hears arguments




FILE - In this July 1, 2013, file photo,  smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont. State officials planned a public meeting Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, in Colstrip on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to cut greenhouse emissions. The town is home to one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the West,  a 2,100-megawatt facility that churns out more greenhouse gases than any other source in Montana. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)
FILE - In this July 1, 2013, file photo, smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont. State officials planned a public meeting Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, in Colstrip on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to cut greenhouse emissions. The town is home to one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the West, a 2,100-megawatt facility that churns out more greenhouse gases than any other source in Montana. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)
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The first of what could be many lawsuits against the E.P.A were argued in the D.C. Court of Appeals today. Two of the nation’s largest coal companies, along with 14 coal-producing states are trying to block environmental regulations proposed by the Obama Administration under the Clean Air Act.

In two separate cases, Murray Energy versus the E.P.A. and West Virginia versus the E.P.A., coal companies argued that the government agency does not have the authority to place limits on coal-fire emissions. Both plaintiffs want the Administration to stop work on the proposal. E.P.A lawyers say the proposal won't be completed until this summer.

Vicki Arroyo is a professor of environmental law and the executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center. She says the E.P.A. asked the coal representatives for more patience:

“The federal government attorneys argued that the EPA has a lot of discretion when it comes to federal rulemaking. Basically, their plea was to please wait until EPA finalizes the rule.”

Though the pending lawsuits aren’t likely to do much to affect the E.P.A’s proposal, Arroyo expects much more litigation once a law is actually passed. Those cases could wind up before the Supreme Court.

Press the play button above to hear environmental lawyer Vicki Arroyo’s conversation with Take Two’s Alex Cohen.