Tag Archives: fossil fuel

Trump’s stock in Dakota Access pipeline company raises concern

Donald Trump holds stock in the company building the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline, and pipeline opponents warn his investments could affect any decision he makes on the $3.8 billion project as president.

Concern about Trump’s possible conflicts comes amid protests that unfold daily along the proposed pipeline route.

The dispute over the route has intensified in recent weeks, with total arrests since August rising to 528.

A recent clash near the main protest camp in North Dakota left a police officer and several protesters injured.

Trump’s most recent federal disclosure forms, filed in May, show he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. That’s down from between $500,000 and $1 million a year earlier.

Trump also owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66, which has a one-quarter share of Dakota Access.

While Trump’s stake in the pipeline company is modest compared with his other assets, ethics experts say it’s among dozens of potential conflicts that could be resolved by placing his investments in a blind trust, a step Trump has resisted.

The Obama administration said this month it wants more study and tribal input before deciding whether to allow the partially built pipeline to cross under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.

The 1,200-mile pipeline would carry oil across four states to a shipping point in Illinois. The project has been held up while the Army Corps of Engineers consults with the Standing Rock Sioux, who believe the project could harm the tribe’s drinking water and Native American cultural sites.

The delay raises the likelihood that a final decision will be made by Trump, a pipeline supporter who has vowed to “unleash” unfettered production of oil and gas. He takes office in January.

“Trump’s investments in the pipeline business threaten to undercut faith in this process — which was already frayed — by interjecting his own financial well-being into a much bigger decision,” said Sharon Buccino, director of the land and wildlife program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

“This should be about the interests of the many, rather than giving the appearance of looking at the interests of a few — including Trump,” Buccino said.

Trump, a billionaire who has never held public office, holds ownership stakes in more than 500 companies worldwide.

He has said he plans to transfer control of his company to three of his adult children, but ethics experts have said conflicts could engulf the new administration if Trump does not liquidate his business holdings.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, called Trump’s investment in the pipeline company “disturbing” and said it fits a pattern evident in Trump’s transition team.

“You have climate (change) deniers, industry lobbyists and energy conglomerates involved in that process,” Grijalva said. “The pipeline companies are gleeful. This is pay-to-play at its rawest.”

A spokeswoman for Trump, Hope Hicks, provided a statement about conflicts of interest to The Associated Press on Friday: “We are in the process of vetting various structures with the goal of the immediate transfer of management of The Trump Organization and its portfolio of businesses to Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump as well as a team of highly skilled executives. This is a top priority at the organization and the structure that is ultimately selected will comply with all applicable rules and regulations.”

Besides Trump, at least two possible candidates for energy secretary also could benefit from the pipeline. Oil billionaire Harold Hamm could ship oil from his company, Continental Resources, through the pipeline, while former Texas Gov. Rick Perry serves on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners.

North Dakota Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple, along with GOP Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer, called on President Barack Obama to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the pipeline crossing, the last large segment of the nearly completed pipeline.

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Dallas-based Energy Transfer, told The Associated Press that he expects Trump to make it easier for his company and others to complete infrastructure projects.

“Do I think it’s going to get easier? Of course,” said Warren, who donated $3,000 to Trump’s campaign, plus $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s candidacy and $66,800 to the Republican National Committee.

“If you’re in the infrastructure business,” he said, “you need consistency. That’s where this process has gotten off track.”

The Army Corps of Engineers granted Warren’s company the permits needed for the crossing in July, but the agency decided in September that further analysis was warranted, given the tribe’s concerns. On Nov. 14, the corps called for even more study.

The company has asked a federal judge to declare it has the right to lay pipe under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir in southern North Dakota. The judge isn’t likely to issue a decision until January at the earliest.

Donald Trump owns stock in Dakota Access oil pipeline

Financial disclosures show GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump owns stock in the company building the Dakota Access oil pipeline, according to a report by The Guardian newspaper.

Federal disclosure forms for Trump, filed in May, show he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which intends to merge with Enbridge.

That’s down from stock listed at between $500,000 and $1 million in a form a year earlier.

Trump’s disclosure form also shows the presidential candidate holds between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66 stock, which has a one-quarter share of Dakota Access.

Also, The Guardian reported that campaign contribution disclosures show Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren donated $3,000 to Trump’s campaign, plus $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s candidacy, as well as $66,800 to the Republican National Committee.

Wind could power 20 percent of world’s electric by 2030

Wind power could supply as much as 20 percent of the world’s total electricity by 2030 due to dramatic cost reductions and pledges to curb climate change, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said in a report released in Beijing on Tuesday.

If last year’s Paris climate accord leads to a worldwide commitment to the decarbonization of the electricity sector, total wind power capacity could reach as much as 2,110 gigawatts (GW) by then, nearly five times its current level, the industry group said.

Such an increase in capacity would involve annual investment of 200 billion euros ($224 billion) and would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3.3 billion tonnes per year, it said.

It forecast that China’s share of the total would reach 666.5 GW, more than quadrupling its current capacity.

The group said total global wind power installations stood at 433 GW by the end of last year, up 17 percent from a year earlier, and are set to rise by around 60 GW in 2016.

Much of the increase was driven by China, which accounted for 145.4 GW at the end of 2015, 33.6 percent of the total. China built 30.8 GW of new wind power capacity over the year, the highest annual addition by any country, the wind council said.

But the pace of capacity additions could fall in 2016, with China still struggling to find enough transmission capacity to take on the huge numbers of new turbines being built.

China’s energy regulator said in July that 21 percent of all wind-generated electricity was wasted in the first half of the year, due also to slowing electricity demand growth as well as the completion of new coal-fired power plants, which made it harder for wind projects to access the grid.

Wasted power – known as curtailment – stood at more than 40 percent in the distant northwestern provinces of Gansu and Xinjiang, where grid capacity is relatively weak, the regulator said.

The wind council said curtailment remained a “major challenge” for China, but the situation was likely to improve over the medium term as regulators work to solve the transmission bottlenecks.

Judge drops riot charge against Democracy Now! journalist Goodman

Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman won’t face a riot charge stemming from her coverage of a protest against construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota, with a judge saying Monday that there was no cause for it.

Judge John Grinsteiner refused to sign off on the misdemeanor riot charge, which prosecutor Ladd Erickson had pursued after dismissing a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge against the journalist on Friday. However, authorities would not rule out the possibility Goodman could face other charges.

Erickson has said Goodman was acting like a protester when she reported on a clash between protesters and pipeline security last month. Her defense attorney, Tom Dickson, maintains Goodman was doing her job.

The protests have drawn thousands of people to the area where Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is trying to wrap up construction on the $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois. Opponents of the pipeline worry about potential effects on drinking water on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and farther downstream, as well as destruction of cultural artifacts.

Goodman is one about 140 people who have been charged in recent weeks with interfering with the pipeline’s construction in North Dakota.

After the judge’s decision Monday, Erickson referred questions to Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey. Asked whether authorities would pursue other charges, Preskey said, “It’s all under review.” She would not elaborate.

Goodman told reporters outside the courthouse that Grinsteiner’s decision was a “vindication for all journalists and a vindication for everyone.”

Dickson said prosecutors are wrong to continue to pursue charges against Goodman.

“The first charge was frivolous and the second charge was even more frivolous,” Dickson said. “Enough is enough. They need to let it go.”

An arrest warrant was issued for Goodman after she reported on a clash on Sept. 3, when Standing Rock Sioux officials said crews bulldozed several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” on private land. Energy Transfer Partners denies those allegations.

Law enforcement officials said four security guards and two guard dogs received medical treatment. A tribal spokesman said six people were bitten by guard dogs and at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed.

Goodman, who is based in New York, said she “came to North Dakota to cover this epic struggle … what we found was horrifying.”

About 200 protesters gathered outside the county courthouse Monday as Goodman was set to appear for a hearing that never happened. Many held signs that included, “This is not a riot.” About 100 officers in riot gear were stationed outside the courthouse to monitor those protesters.

Morton County sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller confirmed one man was arrested on charges including disorderly conduct.

Authorities said pipeline protesters earlier Monday briefly blocked a Bismarck-Mandan bridge across the Missouri River. They dispersed when ordered by law officers.

Carlos Lauria, senior Americas coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said any charges against Goodman are an attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of “significant public interest.”

Goodman’s show airs daily on hundreds of radio and TV stations and over the internet.

It’s not the first time Goodman has had a brush with the law while covering events. She and two of her producers received $100,000 in a settlement over their arrests during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

St. Paul and Minneapolis agreed to pay a combined $90,000 while the federal government agreed to pay $10,000. The lawsuit named the federal government because a Secret Service agent confiscated the journalists’ press credentials.

Goodman said at the time the money would go “to support independent, unfettered” journalism about such events.

D.C. pension fund divests of fossil fuel investments

The District of Columbia government announced June 6 that its $6.4 billion pension fund has fully divested from its direct investments in 200 of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies.

In doing so, Washington, D.C., has taken a critical step toward addressing climate change, joining the more than 500 cities, philanthropic organizations, faith groups, universities and other organizations that have divested funds worth a collective $3.4 trillion.

The decision by the District of Columbia Retirement Board to sell off its fossil fuel investments underscores D.C.’s commitment to protecting environmental quality and ensuring that generations of Washingtonians will inherit a safe and stable climate.

It also marks a victory for DC Divest, the citizens group that led a three-year campaign aimed at promoting divestment in the District of Columbia. “Time is up for the powers that be to act on climate change. If we’re going to take real action on climate change, we must take a hard stance against the fossil fuel industry,” said DC Divest spokesman Matt Grason. “By divesting from fossil fuels, the nation’s capital has taken a critical step in creating the political will for climate action. Now it’s time for Congress to take note and pass comprehensive legislation to limit the carbon pollution driving climate change.”

“I applaud the D.C Retirement Board for doing right by all Washingtonians,” said D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen. “In the past, divestment has proven to be an incredibly powerful tool for effecting positive change. By divesting from fossil fuels D.C. has helped pave the way for a brighter, better future.”

D.C.’s decision to divest from fossil fuels is the latest action the nation’s capital has taken to promote sustainability and protect the health of its residents from climate change impacts.

The district also adopted the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and Mayor Muriel Bowser recently signed a 20-year agreement that will supply 35 percent of the district government’s electricity with wind power and save residents $45 million over the next 20 years.

Climate change is a life or death issue here in the District of Columbia, and it disproportionately harms low income families and communities of color,” said the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. “We can’t afford to wait any longer. The decision to divest from fossil fuels is an incredible act of leadership that came just in time.”

The decision to divest shows that D.C. takes seriously its responsibility to protect pensioners from risky fossil fuel investments,” said Jesse White, a District of Columbia Public Schools teacher and DCRB beneficiary. “As the U.S. continues to transition to a clean energy economy, our investments must follow suit.”

On June 7, the Council of the District of Columbia will formally vote on a ceremonial resolution lauding the board for removing all direct investments in fossil fuels.

The resolution is set be introduced by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmembers Charles Allen and David Grosso.

Trump vows to “free up coal” and cancel Paris climate accord

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump unveiled an “America first” energy plan he said would unleash unfettered production of oil, coal, natural gas and other energy sources to push the United States toward energy independence.

But the speech, delivered at the annual Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, went far beyond energy, as Trump laid out, in his most detail to date, a populist general election pitch against likely rival Hillary Clinton.

“She’s declared war on the American worker,” Trump said of Clinton, reading from prepared remarks in a stadium packed with thousands.

Trump delivered the policy address just hours after The Associated Press determined he had won the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican presidential nomination. He focused on coal, in particular, to help make his case against Clinton, his likely Democratic opponent in the general election.

In March, Clinton said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She has since walked back the remark, calling it “a misstatement” and outlining a plan to help displaced coal workers.

Trump said he would do everything he could “free up the coal” and bring back thousands of coal jobs lost amid steep competition from cheaper natural gas and regulations designed to cut air pollution and reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

“They love it,” Trump said of those who work in coal mines. “We’re going to bring it back and we’re going to help those people because that’s what they want to do.”

The comment marked a shift from a remark Trump made in a 1990 interview with Playboy Magazine, when he compared his career in real estate to “the story of the coal miner’s son.”

“The coal miner gets black-lung disease. His son gets it, then his son. If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines,” he told Playboy. “But most people don’t have the imagination — or whatever — to leave their mine.”

Asked about the Playboy comment, Trump responded in an email. “I never had the imagination to leave the real estate industry, until I recently decided to make America great again,” he said. “We tend to follow up our father’s footsteps, and that’s the lifestyle we want, even if it’s tougher than other alternatives. … Being a coal miner is really tough, but that’s what they love and unlike Hillary Clinton, I am going to make sure they have they have their jobs for many years to come.”

Trump also promised to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax money to a United Nations fund to mitigate effects of climate change worldwide.

He is among many Republicans who reject mainstream climate science. He has called climate change a “con job” and a “hoax” and suggested it is a Chinese plot “to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

He accused President Barack Obama of doing “everything he can to get in the way of American energy.”

Trump’s comments were out of step with an ongoing oil boom that has raised U.S. production to record level and cut gas prices to about $2.30 per gallon. The United States has been the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas for the last four years, according to the Energy Department.

Since Obama took office in 2009, U.S. onshore crude oil production has increased by nearly 90 percent.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said Trump’s “so-called energy plan” was “an unmitigated disaster. It’s clear that Donald Trump would bankrupt our air, water and climate just like he’s bankrupted his businesses.”

Brune called Trump a climate-change denier and said “his fossil fuel comeback plan is a dirty fantasy disconnected from economic realities and our moral imperative to transition to clean energy. There are open pools of oil in North Dakota right now that are deeper than Trump’s understanding of energy issues.”

North Dakota is at the heart of America’s oil boom and now is the second largest oil-producing state after Texas, thanks largely to huge reserves in the oil-rich Bakken region and advances in fracking and other drilling technology.

Despite his political position on climate, there is evidence Trump the businessman is moving to hedge his bets.

Earlier this month, one of Trump’s companies specifically cited sea level rise and increased storminess fueled by global warming in paperwork seeking permission to build a nearly two-mile-long stone wall to fortify the shoreline at one of his golf courses in Ireland.

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Associated Press writers Steve Peoples, Michael Biesecker, Erica Werner and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

 

Activists stage ‘keep it in the ground’ protest

Uniting under the call to “keep it in the ground,” dozens of activists gathered March 17 outside the Milwaukee Theater to protest the auction of over 580 acres of public lands for oil and gas extraction.

The action was part of a growing movement calling on President Barack Obama to halt all new fossil fuel leases offshore and on public lands.

Protest campaign

Earlier in March, a fossil fuel auction in Reno, Nevada, ended without any bids for more than 50,000 acres of publicly owned land after activists peacefully disrupted the sale.

Since November, protested lease sales have been postponed in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Washington, D.C., according to organizers of the Milwaukee action.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration announced a move to bar all drilling off the Atlantic Coast. Environmentalists want the same protections for the Gulf of Mexico, Arctic and public lands.

A report from Ecoshift Consulting shows ending the policy of auctioning off public lands for oil, gas and coal extraction would keep 90 percent of these fossil fuels in the ground — keeping 450 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Jason Kowalski, U.S. policy director with 350.org said in a news release, “From Reno to Milwaukee to New Orleans to Washington, D.C. and beyond, activists are sending a clear message: climate leaders keep fossil fuels in the ground. President Obama has made powerful steps in addressing climate change, such as imposing a coal moratorium and floating new methane regulations, but all of that is undermined if he continues to sell vast quantities of oil and gas to the fossil fuel industry.”

Julie Enslow, 350 Milwaukee, added, “As a Milwaukee citizen concerned about climate change, I strongly oppose the BLM auction in our city.  It is time to stop all government leasing of our public lands to the fossil fuel industry for extraction of oil and gas, and coal. Time is running out for a livable planet, and the burning of fossil fuels has to stop.”

Environmentalists react as ExxonMobil probe is referred to FBI

The U.S. Department of Justice has referred to the FBI’s criminal division a request by two congressmen for a federal probe into ExxonMobil funding of climate denial.

Reaction from environmental groups …

RL Miller, cofounder of Climate Hawks Vote, responded, “Thanks to Rep. Ted Lieu and his determination, the FBI is finally going to see all the evidence — how Exxon publicly distorted science, funded deniers to further manipulate public opinion and set back political will decades.”

At the Center for International Environmental Law, president Carroll Muffett said,  “The formal referral by the Department of Justice means that the FBI must now take real steps to evaluate the serious allegations against ExxonMobil. The bureau will do so amid a growing body of evidence that Exxon was well aware of the threats of climate change, even as it publicly distorted these threats by funding misinformation campaigns.

Muffett continued, “The timing of this revelation is particularly significant for Exxon, which just brought to market its biggest bond sale on record — $12 billion — in the midst of an ongoing crash in global oil prices.  Exxon already faces a potential downgrade from ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.  The referral demonstrates for both the public and investors that the legal risks facing Exxon and other fossil fuel producers are real, they are significant, and they are now imminent. The bad news for Exxon is that the disclosures to date are only the tip of what is almost certainly a very large iceberg of documentary evidence.”

“ExxonMobil’s climate deceit, built on decades of knowingly false statements to federal and state officials and the public, was no garden-variety consumer fraud,” said Brad Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation. “It cries out for FBI scrutiny because it has put lives and property at risk on a scale equal to the corporation’s global reach.”

“This FBI investigation must quickly lead back to a full Department of Justice inquiry and, ultimately, legal action. There’s too much public pressure and action by state Attorney Generals for this case to disappear into a bureaucratic black hole. Exxon knew about climate change, they misled the public, and it’s time for them to be held to criminal account,” said 350.org communications director Jamie Henn.

“Exxon has already cost us decades of meaningful climate action and policy thanks to its colossal climate denial operation. This development is a step in the right direction to holding it legally accountable,” said Naomi Ages, Greenpeace US climate liability campaigner. “We expect the FBI and the Department of Justice to give this investigation the attention demanded by the American public.”

“ExxonMobil has built its profits by destroying our planet.  With the latest science telling us that the world needs to keep more than 80 percent of its fossil fuels in the ground it is clear that this business model must end.  What’s also becoming clear is that ExxonMobil has known this for decades and they lied to the American people about climate change in order to protect their ill-gotten gains.  We welcome the FBI’s criminal investigation into ExxonMobil’s misconduct,” said Ben Schreiber, of Friends of the Earth-US.

Republicans vow to shred historic Paris climate accord

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the international climate change agreement reached in Paris as a major achievement that could help turn the tide on global warming.

But Republicans, who are heavily funded by fossil fuel interests that produce the pollutants causing climate change, tried to deflate the celebration, vowing to overturn the agreement signed by almost 200 nations if the party wins the White House in 2016. 

Obama said the climate agreement “can be a turning point for the world” and credited his administration for playing a key role. He and Kerry predicted the agreement would prompt widespread spending on clean energy and help stem carbon pollution.

“We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge,” Obama said from the White House. He said the climate agreement “offers the best chance we have to save the one planet we have.”

But the immediate reaction of leading Republicans was a reminder of the conflict that lies ahead.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Obama is “making promises he can’t keep” and should remember the agreement “is subject to being shredded in 13 months,” when the next president takes the oath of office.

Clean-power pushback

Even as Obama was working to hammer out a global climate agreement in Paris, Republican climate-change deniers in Congress were working to block his plan to force cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants.

The House passed two resolutions Dec. 8 against the power-plant rules. A measure blocking an Environmental Protection Agency rule for existing power plants was approved 242–180, while a measure blocking a rule on future power plants was approved 235–188.

The votes came after the Senate approved identical motions in November under a little-used law that allows Congress to block executive actions it considers onerous.

The measures, as WiG went to press, were at the White House, where they faced almost-certain vetoes.

Just four Democrats sided with Republicans to support the measures, which fell far short of the numbers needed to override a veto in both the House and Senate.

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., said GOP lawmakers were forcing a vote on the climate rule “to send a message … there’s serious disagreement with the policies of this president.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the president’s pro-environment policies will kill jobs, increase electricity costs and decrease the reliability of the U.S. energy supply.

Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said he wished Obama took the threat posed by “radical jihadists” as seriously as he takes the “pseudoscientific threat” posed by climate change.

Republicans at the state level also are challenging the power plan, which requires states to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, based on emissions in 2005. Each state has a customized target and is responsible for drawing up an effective plan to meet its goal.

The EPA says it has authority to enact the plan under the Clean Air Act. But 25 mostly Republican states, led by Texas and West Virginia, are contesting the plan in court, calling it an unlawful power grab that will kill jobs and drive up electricity costs. Wisconsin, which has perhaps the nation’s strongest rules discouraging “green” energy, is part of the suit.

Utilities, the National Mining Association and the nation’s largest privately owned coal company also are suing the EPA over the new rules.

Koch Industries, a major polluter that political insiders say pulls the strings of the Wisconsin GOP, is one of the world’s largest funders of climate-change propaganda.

The Associated Press was a source for this analysis.

Lawsuits against Obama administration’s climate change plan tossed

A federal appeals court this week threw out a pair of high-profile lawsuits challenging the Obama administration’s sweeping plan to address climate change, saying it’s too early to challenge a proposed rule that isn’t yet final.

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is a temporary setback to opponents of the plan who are expected to renew their legal attack once the regulation is finalized later this year.

The lawsuits from a coalition of 15 states — including Wisconsin — and the nation’s largest privately-held coal mining company claim the EPA exceeded its authority last year when it proposed the far-reaching plan to curb pollution from the nation’s existing coal-fired power plants.

Opponents had argued that even though the rule is not yet final, they are already facing steep costs to get ready for it. But the appeals court said that has never before been a justification for a court to examine a proposed rule that could still be changed before it becomes a final regulation.

“They want us to do something that they candidly acknowledge we have never done before,” wrote Judge Brett Kavanaugh. “We do not have authority to review proposed agency rules.”

The court also said public statements by EPA officials about what the rule will do are not considered final agency action.

The rule the EPA proposed last year is a centerpiece of Obama’s efforts to reduce pollution linked to global warming and one of his most significant acts during his final years in office. It would require states to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Each state has a customized target and is responsible for drawing up an effective plan to meet its goal.

One lawsuit was filed by a coalition of 15 coal-reliant states. The second was from Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., the nation’s largest privately-held coal mining company.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said agency officials are pleased with the court’s ruling and expect to issue a final rule by “mid-summer.” The agency had initially said the rule would be finalized by June 1, but that was pushed back earlier this year.

Opponents say the plan will force coal companies to shut down plants, shed thousands of jobs and drive up electricity prices. They argue that the plan is illegal because the EPA already regulates other power plant pollutants under a different section of the Clean Air Act. They say the law prohibits “double regulation.”

The EPA, however, says it has authority for the plan under the Clean Air Act. At issue are dueling provisions added by the House and Senate to the Clean Air Act in 1990. The EPA says it wins under the Senate language, but opponents argue that the House version should prevail.

The advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund called the decision “a big win in protecting our communities and families against the massive carbon pollution from power plants and an important victory for a fair and democratic rulemaking process.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he was disappointed with the ruling but “we still think we have a compelling case that the rule is unlawful.” He said the state would continue with litigation to stop “this unlawful power grab by Washington bureaucrats.”

A statement from Murray Energy said the company would “fully litigate the rule” once it is made final.

The states challenging the EPA plan are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

On the other side, 13 states and the District of Columbia are backing the Obama administration plan.