Obama administration lawyers want a federal court to hold off on deciding whether to block its climate change rule for power plants until late December.
The schedule proposed by Justice Department lawyers in a court filing Wednesday would have the last briefs for a requested stay filed Dec. 23, at which point the judges would be able to decide.
Some opponents of the regulation wanted the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to decide whether to temporarily block the rule by Dec. 11, when United Nations climate talks are due to end in Paris.
Since the regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency is the United States’s most significant climate change initiative, opponents think staying the rule would send a strong signal and could derail an international pact to fight climate change.
While the Justice Department and the EPA characterized the schedule as reasonable, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the administration was trying to delay proceedings.
“The Clean Power Plan is on legally vulnerable ground, and the agency knows it,” Inhofe, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.
“The EPA has been slow walking the publication of the Clean Power Plan in an attempt to delay the inevitable, and now is asking the federal court to delay next steps on the rule’s legal challenges until after the international climate talks in Paris.”
Twenty-six states and dozens of businesses, fossil fuel interests and other associations have sued the EPA to challenge its regulation, saying it violates the Clean Air Act. Many of the litigants have asked a court to stay the rule to prevent harm from its implementation while judges consider its legality.