When it comes to the future of the EPA plan, only two people count: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and the next president.

"Nothing else matters," said David Bookbinder, former senior counsel for Sierra Club and a sought-after expert on environmental law. How the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on lawsuits from 26 states and scores of others means little, he said Friday.

Kennedy will end up deciding the fate of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, as a deluge of lawsuits floods an appeals court challenging the far-reaching climate rule, Bookbinder said.

"What [the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals] says on the merits [of the suits] is meaningless because it's up to [the] Supreme Court. It's up to Justice Kennedy," said Bookbinder at a day-long conference at the Cato Institute libertarian think tank in Washington on the prospects for a climate change deal in December. The Clean Power Plan is the key to the U.S. meeting its obligations under any climate accord.

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