The White House was forced to respond to a deluge of lawsuits on Friday aimed at killing the centerpiece of the president's climate change agenda, the Clean Power Plan, ahead of a major meeting in Paris to address global warming.
The lawsuits began Friday morning with a 24-state coalition suing the Environmental Protection Agency to vanquish the power plan, arguing that it is an illegal attempt to regulate the states' energy resources, while increasing prices for consumers and creating greater grid instability. The suits were filed after the rules were published in the Federal Register today.
White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz was asked by reporters Friday if he feels the legal action could create uncertainty for the president's goal of a successful climate deal in Paris as countries begin to assemble on Nov. 30. The deal would seek to lower carbon dioxide emissions that many scientists blame for increasing the Earth's temperature.
"[W]e are confident that this plan is on strong legal footing, and I'll explain why," Schultz said. "The clean power plan is consistent with a text history and structure of the Clean Air Act, and it also gives the states the flexibility they need to implement it, and it reflects unprecedented public engagement, and finally is responsive to all of the feedback we received from stakeholders during [a] very long engagement process."
As Schultz was giving the daily press briefing, more lawsuits were being filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a large contigent of oil refiners in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, the Republican leadership joined with Democrats to introduce bipartisan resolutions of disapproval, which would repeal the climate change regulations.
Reporters continued to press Schultz at the briefing if the double-pronged attack on the power plan has the administration worried.
"Well, I am not surprised that our Republican critics have rushed to the courts to try to prevent something they were not able to do legislatively," said Schultz, referring to previous attempts by the GOP to squash the regulations in legislative riders and other bills. "That's something they've shown an inclination to do on other issue areas, but we believe that this approach has been shaped by data, shaped by science and represents a balanced, pragmatic view of how to tackle this."
He added that the Clean Power Plan "doubles down on flexibility and choice" to accommodate utility firms and states' energy goals. The states argue that the plan is a federal "power grab" that looks to dictate how they develop their resources.