Thursday, February 11, 2016

Supreme Court Halts Clean Power Plan, with Implications Far Beyond the U.S.

Reminds me of how Republican politicians reacted to the Flint, Michigan water problem.

By John H. Cushman Jr.
Feb. 10, 2016

The Supreme Court put on hold the linchpin of President Obama's climate policy, barring the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday from carrying out the administration's new Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants.

It was a surprising decision of staggering proportions, with repercussions that go far beyond the U.S. electrical grid, threatening the credibility of the Paris Agreement on climate change reached by the world’s nations in December.

The Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce by nearly a third emissions from fossil fuel-burning electricity plants, is the central element of the pledge by the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025.

It was an unusual intervention by the Supreme Court, given that a powerful appeals court had just weeks ago turned down a request by dozens of states and their allies in the fossil fuel industries to impose a stay on the new federal regulation.

By blocking enforcement of the rule, the justices sent a signal that conservatives on the court may be inclined to limit the agency's powers under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court found in its 2007 decision Massachusetts v. EPA that the statute allows controls on carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming.

It would have taken years for the Clean Power Plan to take full effect, but the first step would have been for states to file implementation plans starting in September. Planning was well under way for that. About half the states had joined in appealing the rule, and some of them had declared that they would have refused to file state plans. Now, none of them will have to meet the rule's deadlines, which the EPA will be powerless to enforce.


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