Court Hears Marathon Argument on Climate Change Rule

Filed in Codes and Standards, Environment, Legal by on September 28, 2016 0 Comments

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday considered an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that has wide-ranging ramifications for the economy and the potential to uniquely impact home builders.

In a rare move, the full D.C. Circuit – 10 judges in all – heard oral argument in West Virginia et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where more than 100 petitioners, including over half the states have challenged EPA’s Clean Power Plan rule.

The Clean Power Plan ostensibly regulates carbon dioxide from power plants by requiring each state to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from plants inside their borders. NAHB joined the petitioners challenging the rule because the rule creates incentives for states to explore complying with EPA-established targets through the use of aggressive, mandatory energy-efficient building codes.

Further, if a state fails to comply with the Clean Power Plan rule, EPA is required to step in and implement the rule in that state. This may lead to federal involvement in building codes, which the federal government lacks authority to adopt.

NAHB legal staff attended the oral arguments at the packed courthouse. Throughout the nearly seven-hour argument, the judges focused on EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to issue the regulation it did, with an emphasis on the meaning of key statutory terms such as “source,” “owner-operator” and “system.”

Throughout the lively debate, the judges also considered a wide-ranging set of implementation problems that petitioners argued would ensue if the rule were enacted.

A decision in this case is expected in 2017. For more information, please contact Amy Chai.

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