Supreme Court halts enforcement of Obama power plant rules

The Supreme Court halted enforcement of the Obama administration's power plant rules, giving opponents time to appeal the rule in the lower courts.

The administration argued that enforcement of the regulations should be allowed while appeals work their way through the court system.  But in a 5-4 split along partisan lines, justices denied the administration request.

It doesn't mean that the rules are dead – far from it.  But it guarantees that before the issue comes before the court again, the GOP has a chance to reverse the regulations by congressional vote – as long as there is a Republican president.

Fox News:

The surprising move is a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations "an unprecedented power grab."

By temporarily freezing the rule the high court's order signals that opponents have made a strong argument against the plan. A federal appeals court last month refused to put it on hold.

The court's four liberal justices said they would have denied the request.

The plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.

"We disagree with the Supreme Court's decision to stay the Clean Power Plan while litigation proceeds," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.Earnest said the administration's plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, and gives the states time to develop cost-effective plans to reduce emissions. He also said the administration will continue to "take aggressive steps to make forward progress to reduce carbon emissions."

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.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, whose coal-dependent state is helping lead the legal fight, hailed the court's decision.

"We are thrilled that the Supreme Court realized the rule's immediate impact and froze its implementation, protecting workers and saving countless dollars as our fight against its legality continues," Morrisey said. 

Opponents of the rule face an uphill battle in their effort to have the regs declared unconstitutional.  As a general rule, courts have agreed with the notion of climate change and that carbon emissions are responsible. 

But the EPA regulations are so broad and all-encompassing – not to mention that they would literally destroy the coal industry – that there's a chance that courts will take into account the negative impact on the economy and jobs to rule against the EPA. 

It will be years before the issue comes before the Supreme Court again.  One can only hope that the makeup of the court will have become more business-friendly and that a Republican president will lead the fight to repeal these onerous regulations.

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