On Saturday, a major federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., issued a rare decision to overturn a ruling by a lower court that blocked the EPA from enforcing a rule requiring that states report how much carbon dioxide they produce.
The decision was the latest blow to President Donald Trump’s climate-change agenda, and comes as Trump and the GOP have struggled to convince Americans that they are serious about ending global warming.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would have required states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from their power plants by at least 25 percent by 2025, was the centerpiece of Trump’s signature legislative initiative and had been expected to be the final piece of the puzzle for Trump to fulfill his promise of “America first.”
But on Monday, the 9th U.D. Circuit Court of Appeals said the EPA had overstepped its authority when it refused to issue the rule.
“EPA did not seek the necessary authority to issue a rule that would cause harm to the public health or the environment,” the judges wrote in a 7-2 ruling.
“It did not consider the significant costs and uncertainties that a rule would entail, the substantial cost of compliance and compliance costs, the risks of unnecessary litigation, the harm to business, consumers, and taxpayers if the rule were enforced, and the potential for costly litigation in the future.”
The court said that if the EPA can prove that the rule would have “significant impacts” on the public, “EPA’s burden is substantially greater to demonstrate that the impact would be substantial.”
The agency, the judges said, “did not address the question of whether the EPA’s action is necessary or appropriate, and its burden is less on the Court to consider whether the agency’s action, if adopted, would cause an actual or foreseeable adverse impact.”
The appeals court said it was unclear whether Trump intended to issue an executive order on the Clean Power plan, which is expected to become law later this year.
But the ruling will not change the EPA decision to issue its rule on the federal air pollution standards.
The Trump administration has been trying to get the agency to issue carbon dioxide rules, including one that would require states to report the amount of carbon dioxide produced by power plants, as well as another on carbon dioxide emission standards for new vehicles and other energy sources.
The rules have been met with fierce opposition from environmental groups, coal-burning power plants and some states that have argued that the federal government is overstepping its authority by regulating the emissions of pollutants that are a major contributor to global warming and the spread of infectious diseases.
The Clean Power rule would be one of the major pieces of the administration’s climate agenda, including the Clean Energy and Clean Food and Water Acts, the EPA administrator nominee Scott Pruitt’s proposal to slash the EPA budget and the President’s Climate Action Plan, and a host of other initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in Pruitt’s nomination next week.
Trump has made the climate change issue central to his agenda, especially in his first weeks in office, but he has been less active in the fight.
He has largely stopped talking about climate change since he took office in January, when he said he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, and he has refused to publicly commit to reversing the Obama administration’s landmark Clean Power program.
Trump and his top advisers have said the Paris deal was a “horrible deal” that left U.N. climate negotiators in a bad position.
The president’s proposed budget for 2018 would reduce the EPA by about half and the Department of Energy by less than half.
On Tuesday, Trump announced that he would sign an executive memorandum directing his Cabinet to start phasing out the EPA, saying he was going to “get rid of it like a bad habit.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the 9,600-word ruling from The Washington Post.
The court’s ruling, however, does not mean that the EPA will be able to continue its plan to implement the Clean Air Act and other climate-related regulations.
Trump’s actions have already had a major impact on the energy sector.
Trump announced in January that the Trump administration would withdraw from the landmark Paris climate deal, a move that many analysts said would hurt the coal industry.
And a number of states have already started to enact their own climate-protection laws.
Last month, Trump signed an executive action requiring federal agencies to identify and disclose greenhouse gas emission reductions they will make from 2020 through 2025, a policy change that critics have said will help to delay and delay on climate-driven regulations and push up energy costs.
Trump, however the Clean Water Rule and other policies, have not been able to produce a major dent in the greenhouse gas problem, despite the actions he has taken, said Matt Kennedy, the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“The Clean Power Rule is one of those big policies, and it is going to have a