News of the Day - 02/10/16

Supreme Court Blocks Clean Power Plan

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama by putting on hold federal regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions mainly from coal-fired power plants, the centerpiece of his administration's strategy to combat climate change.

The court voted 5-4 along ideological lines to grant a request by 27 states and various companies and business groups to block the administration's Clean Power Plan, which also mandates a shift to renewable energy away from fossil fuels.

The highly unusual move by the justices means the regulations will not be in effect while a court battle continues over their legality.

The Supreme Court's action casts doubt on the long-term future of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's rule because it increases the chances that the conservative-leaning Supreme Court would take the case after a lower court issues a decision on the legality of the regulations and ultimately would strike it down.

As recently as June, the high court ruled 5-4 against the Obama administration over its efforts to regulate mercury and other toxic air pollutants.

The states, led by coal producer West Virginia and oil producer Texas, and several major business groups in October launched the legal effort seeking to block the Obama administration's plan. The states said the emissions curbs would have a devastating impact on their economies.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey described the Supreme Court action on Tuesday as a "historic and unprecedented victory" over the EPA.

Tom Donahue, chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the high court stay "will ensure that America will not be forced to make costly and irreversible implementation decisions based upon an unprecedented regulation until judicial review is complete."

The court action also means that, with Obama leaving office in January 2017, the next president will have a say on whether to continue defending the regulation.

Before that, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which denied a similar stay request last month, will hear oral arguments in the case on June 2 and decide whether the regulations are lawful.

"This is certainly a surprise and it suggests the court has serious concerns" about the regulation, said Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve School of Law.


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