SUPREME COURT HALTS OBAMA CLEAN POWER PLAN

John M. Williams (williams@rwktlaw.com)

The United States Supreme Court has issued a stay putting on hold the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Enforcement of the rule is stayed at least until the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules on a challenge to the rule later this year. The challenge was brought by a group of states, utilities and coal operators. If the rule is upheld, the stay would likely remain in place while review before the Supreme Court is sought.

This is not a ruling by the Court on the merits of the challenge to the rule. Rather, the Court has ordered that the rule be put on hold until the court challenges are decided. The practical effect is that the EPA will not be able to enforce the September 6 deadline given states to submit their emissions-reduction plans for approval. The stay does, however, indicate the Court may be skeptical of the government’s prospects of prevailing on the merits.

The Court’s four liberal justices–Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan–dissented from the Court’s ruling.

©RAJKOVICH, WILLIAMS, KILPATRICK & TRUE, PLLC 2016

 

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MSHA IMPLEMENTS PHASE II OF DUST RULE

John M. Williams (williams@rwktlaw.com)

On February 1, 2016, Phase II of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s respirable dust regulations took effect. Underground coal miners will now wear Continuous Personal Dust Monitors to provide real time analysis of exposure to respirable dust. The goal is to use this real time monitoring to immediately address excessive exposure to coal dust. Operators must also post the results of this sampling within 12 hours of the sampled shift. Any miner who has shown evidence of black lung disease (coal worker’s pneumoconiosis) must be given the sample results within an hour of the start of his or her next work shift.

Phase II comes on the heels of the January 25, 2016 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upholding the new dust rule against a challenge by various trade groups and operators. National Mining Association, et al. vs. Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Case No. 14-11942. Full text of this opinion made be found on the Court’s website.

The third phase of the dust rule takes effect on August 1, 2016. It lowers the dust standard from 2.0 milligrams per cubic meter of air measured over a shift to 2.0 milligrams.

©RAJKOVICH, WILLIAMS, KILPATRICK & TRUE, PLLC 2016