Not good news. Reuters reports:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama by blocking federal regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, the centerpiece of his administration’s strategy to combat climate change.
On a 5-4 vote, the court granted a request made by  states and various companies and business groups to block the administration’s Clean Power Plan. The move means the regulations will not be in effect while litigation continues over […] their legality.
The Clean Power Plan finalized last year imposes limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants burning coal and natural gas. Twenty-nine states have filed suit contesting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to impose the limits. They had sought a stay on implementation of the plan while their suit works its way through the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. But the court rejected that motion, spurring the states to submit a brief late in January asking the Supreme Court to block the implementation of the plan.
The states claim that the Obama administration seeks via the emissions controls to shut down as many as 50 coal-fired power plants. The EPA says that number is too high. Attorneys for the states said, according to SCOTUSBlog, that the Clean Power Plan would turn the EPA into a czar — “the nation’s central energy planning authority” favoring wind and solar power over hydrocarbon-fueled power plants. They also say the plan would constrain the constitutional sovereignty of states to make any rules for industries operating inside their boundaries.
Adam Liptak and Coral Davenport report:
“It’s a stunning development,” Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor and former environmental legal counsel to the Obama administration, said in an email. She added that “the order certainly indicates a high degree of initial judicial skepticism from five justices on the court,” and that the ruling would raise serious questions from nations that signed on to the landmark Paris climate change pact in December.
In negotiating that deal, which requires every country to enact policies to lower emissions, Mr. Obama pointed to the power plant rule as evidence that the United States would take ambitious action, and that other countries should follow.
Justice Department lawyers had tried to persuade the Supreme Court not to impose any delay, noting that no state would have to file a plan to implement the policy until this September, and any plant would find it easy to get an extension of time to file such a plan until 2018. The government lawyers also told the Court that actual implementation of the plan would not have to begin until 2022, and would have a final completion deadline of 2030.
The stretched-out schedule, the government argued, would mean that the plants affected by the plan would not have to do anything right away.
The stay means that the DC Circuit Court will now review the plan and make its ruling, after which no doubt the losing side will appeal to the Supreme Court. That means the chances are slim that the final ruling will be made before President Obama leaves office 11 months from now.
Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association issued the following statement:
“The American wind industry is disappointed in today’s decision by the Supreme Court, staying the effectiveness of the Clean Power Plan while the courts review legal challenges to the rule. A centerpiece of President Obama’s climate action plan, the Clean Power Plan builds on existing trends in the electric power sector that have allowed many states around the country to reduce emissions at a rapid rate, while producing lower electric rates for consumers, and embrace cleaner energy solutions, like wind energy. The wind industry has demonstrated that we can reduce carbon emissions while reducing electric bills.
Today’s decision does not mean the Clean Power Plan has been overturned, to the contrary we are confident that once the courts carefully consider the merits of these cases, the Clean Power Plan will stand. A stay, however is disappointing because it may signal eventual delays in reducing both the carbon pollution that is causing climate change and getting proven, clean, and affordable wind energy to more Americans.”
(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)