Ag Policy Blog

Supreme Court Halts EPA Climate Regulations on Power Plants

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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President Barack Obama's administration suffered a blow to his environmental agenda late Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay effectively blocking EPA's Clean Power Plan from going into effect.

The five Republican-appointed justices votes to back the stay while EPA's carbon pollution rules are argued in the courts. The four justices appointed by Democrats voted in dissent.

West Virginia, Texas and 23 other states are challenging the EPA's plan, which would require coal-fired coal plants to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. The Supreme Court decision likely ties up the Clean Power Plan in courts through the end of the Obama Administration. The stay puts the rule on hold pending the outcome of the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia and the end of any appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Under the plan, EPA delays actual regulatory standards from kicking in until 2022. States would have until 2018 to submit their plans for achieving lower emission goals.

People on both sides of the issue of climate change had strong reactions to court's decision Tuesday night. The White House disagrees with the court's decision.

"The Clean Power Plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, gives States the time and flexibility they need to develop tailored, cost-effective plans to reduce their emissions, and will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country, and major progress in our efforts to confront the risks posed by climate change. We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits. Even while the litigation proceeds, EPA has indicated it will work with states that choose to continue plan development and will prepare the tools those states will need. At the same time, the Administration will continue to take aggressive steps to make forward progress to reduce carbon emissions," The White House stated.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the court's decision. Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the Chamber, said the EPA's rule on greenhouse gases was unlawful.

“Supreme Court’s stay of this rule and the D.C. Circuit’s order to hear the case quickly will ensure that America will not be forced to make costly and irreversible implementation decisions based upon an unprecedented regulation until judicial review is complete," Donohue said. "The EPA’s rule would put the government in control of our energy choices, drive up electricity costs for American businesses, consumers and families, impose tens of billions of dollars in annual compliance costs, and reduce our nation’s global competitiveness. Staying this rule is the right decision.”

Patrick Morrisey, attorney general for West Virginia, called the court's stay a "monumental victory." He added, “Make no mistake – this is a great victory for West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “We are thrilled that the Supreme Court realized the rule’s immediate impact and froze its implementation, protecting workers and saving countless dollars as our fight against its legality continues.”

States involved in the case include West Virginia and Texas, as well as Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, along with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Public Service Commission, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

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