Appeals court delays action on Obama's carbon emissions plan

A truck engine is tested for pollution exiting its exhaust pipe as California Air Resources field representatives (unseen) work a checkpoint set up to inspect heavy-duty trucks traveling near the Mexican-U.S. border in Otay Mesa, California September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Monday delayed consideration of a challenge by 27 states to President Barack Obama’s federal regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions mainly from coal-fired plants, meaning a decision will not come until after the November presidential election.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will now hear the case on Sept. 27. The court was originally due to hear the case on June 2.

The court said in a brief order that it made the decision without prompting by the various parties, including the states of West Virginia and Texas.

The change appeared to be made so that a larger group of nine judges will hear the case instead of the normal three-judge panel. President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, is a member of the court but the order indicated he will not participate.

The plan was designed to lower carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 2030 to 32 percent below 2005 levels. It is the main tool for the United States to meet the emissions reduction target it pledged at U.N. climate talks in Paris in December.

It is not currently in effect after the Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, put it on hold in February until after the litigation is resolved.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by James Dalgleish