U.S. states, greens delay lawsuit, watch for Obama climate plan

Mon Jun 17, 2013 6:55pm EDT
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By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) - Environmental groups and a dozen states and cities said Monday they will delay planned legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, saying they will wait to see if the White House soon unveils a climate policy strategy.

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.

President Barack Obama reportedly told campaign donors last week he will unveil a package of measures to combat climate change, possibly including EPA curbs on power plant emissions.

Many of those donors are ardent opponents of TransCanada Corp's planned Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil produced in Canada's oil sands regions to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Some policy analysts reason that, if Obama approves the pipeline, he will face pressure to announce strong climate measures as an offsetting measure.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups that planned to sue, said in a statement that whatever Obama rolls out should advance his previous pledges on climate action.

"The president has set a goal to cut our carbon emissions by 17 percent - from our 2005 levels - by 2020. We need a set of actions that will get us there," said David Hawkins, director of climate programs at the environmental group.   Continued...