On January 21, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a series of motions for stay that had been filed by opponents of EPA’s recently finalized Clean Power Plan regulations. Twenty-seven states (or at least some representative of those states’ governments, such as an attorney general) are among the opponents, along with a number of industry groups. The motions were based on arguments that the regulations are unlawful because, among other things, they impermissibly treat an entire economic sector (the electric power generation sector) as a single Clean Air Act “source,” and establish EPA as an electricity czar armed with market-restructuring power that Congress never intended to provide.
The court did not issue an opinion, and therefore, its specific reasoning was not revealed (beyond the concise statement in its per curiam order that “Petitioners have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review.”). However, implicitly, and necessarily, it rejected some or all of the contentions that the states and other petitioners had made, i.e., that they or their constituents are being immediately and irreparably harmed, that a stay would cause no harm, that the public interest favors granting a stay, and that the petitioners are likely to prevail on the merits. The court also ordered that consideration of the proceedings on the merits be expedited, with final briefs to be filed by April 22, 2016, and oral argument to be held on June 2, 2016.