The 5-4 decision temporarily blocks further execution of the EPA’s new plan to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants.
On February 9, the US Supreme Court handed a potentially significant defeat to the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) regulations by staying the CPP’s implementation until court challenges to the plan’s legality conclude. The controversial plan seeks to slash carbon emissions from existing power plants by nearly a third in the coming decades through a wide-ranging effort to substitute new low-emission resources, such as wind and solar, for more traditional coal-based generation. Those challenging the CPP maintain that, in seeking to work such a fundamental change in the United States’ energy generation fleet, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has far exceeded the powers given to it under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The Supreme Court’s granting of a stay of the regulations comes after the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (DC Circuit) rejected a similar request and comes over the Obama’s administration’s opposition, as well as that of some supporting states and industry participants. The decision signals that at least five members of the Supreme Court found the challengers’ arguments more convincing at this stage of the proceedings.