In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily halted implementation of the Clean Power Plan, as an appeals court considers an expedited legal challenge. By temporarily freezing the rule the high court's order signals that opponents have made a strong argument against the plan, Fox News reported. A federal appeals court last month refused to put it on hold.
The ruling is not based on the merits of the plan, which will be heard in court later this year. The court halted enforcement of the plan until after legal challenges are resolved. Appellate arguments are set to begin June 2.
The compliance period starts in 2022, but states must submit their plans to the Environmental Protection Administration by September or seek an extension. Many states opposing the plan depend on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas. They argued that power plants will have to spend billions of dollars to begin complying with a rule that may end up being overturned, according to Fox News.
The EPA said a stay of the regulation was unnecessary because it was legal and being implemented slowly, the Wall Street Journal reported. The agency also said any delay in implementing the regulations would postpone important carbon dioxide reductions.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association today welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to halt implementation of the plan.
“Charging ahead with implementation of the Clean Power Plan would have caused immediate and irreparable harm to America’s electric co-ops,” said NRECA Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor. “Had the stay not been granted, co-ops would have been forced to take costly and irreversible steps to comply with the rule, which is a huge overreach of EPA’s legal authority. The Clean Power Plan is a direct threat to co-ops’ ability to provide affordable and reliable electricity to their member consumers and should be erased from the books.”
Last fall, 39 generation and transmission cooperatives joined NRECA in petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review and ultimately reject the Clean Power Plan. A decision in this case may come later this year or early 2017.
The American Public Power Association released a statement this morning, supporting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the legal challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) prior to its implementation. Regardless of their position on these issues, almost all parties agree that implementation of the CPP will result in broad and transformative changes to the electricity industry, APPA stated. Thus, resolving these highly controversial issues will significantly reduce the uncertainty of the program and, ultimately, the costs to consumers. APPA looks forward to a meticulous review and consideration of these matters by the court.
In the interim, public power utilities will continue their substantial progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through greater use of renewable, nuclear, and other low- and non-emitting sources of electricity generation, and the implementation of energy efficiency and conservation programs.