Important news out of the 9th Circuit, where the state of California recently moved to have an expedited hearing of its lawsuit seeking to overturn the EPA's Clean Air Act waiver denial (EPA opposed this action). On Friday afternoon, the court ruled to grant the state's request in part, allowing the case to move forward at its current pace but constraining EPA's ability to delay the process.
Under the current briefing schedule, the state's opening brief is due on March 24, with EPA's response due at the end of April and the state having the option of countering within a month. In other words, the earliest the court might hear arguments is this summer.
The good news for California was that the court declared that Circuit rule 31-2.2(b, rather than 31-2.2(a), would apply to this case-- meaning that any requests to extend briefing deadlines must be made in writing, follow strict procedures, and be received at least a week prior to an approaching deadline. This determination was added to by the court's apparent warning that it intends to be judicious in granting extensions ("Any motion...must demonstrate extraordinary circumstances exist to warrant additional time to file the brief") indicating that any attempts to drag the matter out will face an uphill climb.
Still, anyone hoping for a hasty resolution of this legal matter and the swift enactment of California's global warming emissions standards should certainly realize that short of legislative intervention, nothing is likely to happen this year.