What the SCOTUS Stay Mean for the Clean Power Plan

Though legal challenges to full implementation of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) were expected, the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday to stay progress on the CPP was a surprising and unexpected setback. The EPA regulation is president Obama's signature action to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

A coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and fossil energy interests,claiming the CPP was a "power grab," prevailed upon the court in a 5-to-4 vote that fell along idealogical leanings. All four of the liberal justices noted they did not favor the decision.

It is reportedly unprecedented to stay any regulation before its legal standing has been considered. A similar request for a stay was rejected by the DC Circuit US Court of Appeals in December.

The stay does not overturn the CPP nor does it comment on the legal merits of the plan, which will be considered by the Court of Appeals in oral arguments on June 2. Once the Court of Appeals makes its decision, it is assumed the Supreme Court will then hear the case and issue its final decision by June of 2017 and likely "no later than June of 2018," said Joanne Spalding, Chief Climate Counsel for the Sierra Club at a press conference on Thursday.

The Clean Power Plan calls for states to come up wth their own individual plans for cutting emissions by September, though a 2-year extension is allowed. The CPP calls for a 32 percent overall reduction in emissions against 2005 levels by 2030. Implementation of the state plans does not begin until 2022.

Since the court's ruling this week, at least four states - California, Virginia, Colorado and Washington - have pledged they will continue implementing their plans. A New York-led coalition of 14 states have also issued a statement stressing their support of the CPP.

Experts from the Sierra Club, World Resources Institute and the Union of Concerned Scientists participated in Thursday's press conference. Our post on GlobalWarmingisReal details their comments and outlook for continued climate action despite the temporary setback handed down by the Supreme Court.

Image credit: MPCA Photos, courtesy flickr

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