Hopes US president Barack Obama’s climate plan could be enforced before he leaves office are fading fast after a court delayed legal arguments for three months.
Such is the importance of the case, the District of Columbia appeals court determined it needed to be assessed by a full panel of 11, rather than the allotted three, judges.
Legal arguments over the Clean Power Plan will now be heard on 27 September rather than 2 June. US legal experts say whatever the outcome, the Supreme Court is now likely to make a final ruling in 2017.
The plan is a central part of US commitments to the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change, where it targeted greenhouse gas cuts of 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2025.
Branded by critics a “war on coal”, the CPP would see carbon caps imposed on 47 states with an ultimate goal of slashing power sector emissions 32% on 2005 levels by 2030.
Its future rests on the outcome of the presidential election, with likely Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton a fan, and presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump an opponent.
Trump energy advisor Kevin Cramer, a Republican Congressman, told the ClimateWire website last week the CPP would be under threat if he made it to the White House.
“I would still tell him, ‘Yeah, we need to stop and repeal the Clean Power Plan,’” he said.
“If in fact he wants a more carbon-restrained energy policy, he ought to work with real scientists and work with Congress to come up with a better one.”
Cramer added he supported the 27 states that are taking legal action against the rule, claiming the administration lacks the authority to enforce it.
Still, his suggestion that a “very, very modest” carbon tax to help fund clean fossil fuel research could be a good idea was swiftly shot down by his boss in a single tweet over the weekend.
.@thehill Your story about me & the carbon tax is absolutely incorrect—it is just the opposite. I will not support or endorse a carbon tax!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2016