A federal appeals court this week granted North Carolina’s request to pull out of a lawsuit challenging federal requirements for controlling carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
The state Department of Environmental Quality announced the ruling on Thursday.
The abrupt withdrawal reflects the change in administrations with the election of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. North Carolina had joined several states in the 2015 lawsuit under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
“We did not feel this case was a good use of our agency’s or taxpayers’ resources, and it did not align with our mission,” DEQ Secretary Michael Regan said in a statement his office released. “This will enable us to devote more of our time and energy toward protection of air, water and natural resources.”
But the federal Clean Power Plan is likely to be challenged by the Trump administration anyway. It remains tied up in the courts.
N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat who was just elected, filed the motion in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Feb. 23.
Regan’s predecessor, Donald van der Vaart, was the McCrory administration’s point man in pushing back against what they considered to be overreach in a number of matters by the Obama administration. They denounced the requirements in the federal Clean Power Plan as a takeover of North Carolina’s power generating system.