A cavalry of lawyers representing states and environmental groups was expected to launch a legal assault against the Obama administration this week over its slow movement on climate rules, but the charge was postponed at the 11th hour.
What changed? Obama has been telling donors that he plans to unveil new climate change regulations as part of a larger climate strategy next month.
Those regulations are expected to include a long-awaited rule on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, which would likely make it impossible to build new coal plants unless they have carbon-capture technology. The administration has been delaying release of that rule, reportedly working to improve it so it can better withstand the inevitable industry lawsuits. That delay in turn prompted states and environmental groups to threaten their own lawsuit.
The attorney generals of New York and nine other states, along with three major green groups, had planned to sue the EPA this week because it missed a deadline in April to finalize emissions standards for new electric power plants.
Two months after notifying the agency they intended to sue, the consortium had expected to file as early as Monday, but backed off temporarily to allow the White House to disclose its climate plans.
“Due to public reports that the president will be announcing major action on climate change very soon, the Attorney General has decided to postpone a lawsuit on this matter for a short period,” said Melissa Grace, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
So the prospect of a new climate initiative is enough to mollify the would-be litigants — for now.
But climate activists are still restless and unhappy, particularly over Obama’s indecision on the Keystone XL pipeline. Just yesterday, 22 activists were arrested during a Keystone protest outside a State Department office in Chicago.