The Flawed Congressional Argument Against the Clean Power Plan

On Sept. 27, the D.C. Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on the Clean Power Plan. The case pits the Environmental Protection Agency against select state attorneys general, some of the biggest power companies, and industry associations. The court will decide whether the EPA has authority to protect the nation’s public health and environment by setting carbon pollution standards for power plants. The Republican leadership in Congress has weighed in on this case, arguing that EPA has usurped the role of Congress. But to support this argument, the members of Congress rely on an illogical claim based on Congress’ failure six years ago to pass climate change legislation.

Earlier this year, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined 203 members of Congress — with just one lone Democrat signing on — in filing a “friend of the court” brief in support of the lawsuit. These members argue that Congress’ failure to pass cap-and-trade legislation in 2010 is evidence that “Congress had no intention of conferring upon EPA” the authority to cut carbon pollution from power plants as prescribed by the Clean Power Plan when Congress passed the Clean Air Act.

This article was originally published in Morning Consult.