The US Supreme Court placed a temporary halt on a wide-reaching plan to curb carbon emissions from power plants, in a major setback to the Obama administration’s plan to shift the US to clean energy. In a 5-4 decision, the court granted a stay to opponents of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. States would likely have to limit their use of coal-fired power plants to accomplish this, or else shift over to more efficient technologies at their coal plants.
The plan is on hold pending a court ruling
More than half of US states challenged the EPA plan, which relies on executive powers granted by the 1970 Clean Air Act. The states say this action is overreach by the federal government and have been pushing for the plan to be halted. Its first steps would have gone into effect this year, with a September 6th deadline for states to submit their plan for curbing carbon emissions, according to Bloomberg. That will likely no longer be enforced. The EPA rules will now be on hold until a court can rule on them. Bloomberg reports that a federal appeals court will hear arguments in June and likely make a ruling later this year. If the states lose, the case may proceed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court's decision to halt the EPA's rules is somewhat more than a temporary setback. It also signals that the court is likely leaning in the states' favor, with a majority of justices believing there's good reason to grant a stay. It suggests they believe these are onerous rules that may well present problems for the petitioners before being overturned. That's also bad news for Obama, the EPA, and really anyone hoping to see the world combat climate change rather than be destroyed by increasingly powerful effects, like rising sea levels and crop shortages.