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Familiar Territory

A Survey of Legal Precedents for the Clean Power Plan

A coalition of states, utilities, energy producers, and other industry groups has brought a challenge in the D.C. Circuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s existing power plants pursuant to Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. A competing cohort of states, municipalities, companies, and environmental organizations has intervened to support the rule.

In connection with a motion to stay the rule pending resolution of their suit, the challengers have filed dozens of declarations from state government officials and industry representatives. Many of these declarations make exaggerated claims regarding the “unprecedented” nature of the Clean Power Plan. In this essay, we highlight a wide variety of regulations from the Clean Air Act’s forty-five-year history that provide substantial precedent for the flexible design of the Clean Power Plan.