In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has put a temporary halt on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP), citing ongoing litigation against the carbon emissions reduction scheme by the coal industry and other parties. The stay stops all enforcement until the suits are resolved, including one by a coalition of 27 U.S. states and several pro-coal groups. The one-page order also comes after a federal appeals court refused to put a hold on the plan late last month at the request of that same group.
Oral appellate arguments are slated to commence on June 2; several larger media outlets have indicated that there is a possibility for a ruling later this year while others have projected appeals will go into 2017. There are more than 30 lawsuits that have been filed to date against the CPP.
The White House was obviously disappointed. “We disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, arguing that the plan is based on a legal and technical foundation and provides proper time for states to comply. “[We will continue to] “take aggressive steps to make forward progress to reduce carbon emissions.”
While the stay is a temporary one, those opposed to the CPP were pleased. “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,” West Virginia Attorney General and coalition leader Patrick Morrissey said.
Matt Mead, governor of top U.S. coal-producing state Wyoming, agreed. “It puts on hold this very bad policy based on a deeply flawed process while the legal issues are being addressed.”
The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia following the stay could work against pro-coal groups depending on when the case returns to the court and the outcome of this year’s presidential election.