Politicizing The Bench

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked the implementation of the Clean Power Plan.

The Supreme Court Temporarily Blocked The Implementation Of The Clean Power Plan

Yesterday, the Supreme Court showed its political stripes by issuing a stay ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. In a 5-4 decision, the conservative justices sided with fossil fuel interests on a politically-motivated lawsuit to temporarily halt plans to reduce carbon pollution. To be clear, the decision does not overturn the Clean Power Plan, it just means the implementation of the plan is on hold while the Supreme Court considers a legal challenge from states and dirty energy industry. This could mean that the decision on the Clean Power Plan could get delayed until after President Obama leaves office.

How this happened:

The facts are that the Supreme Court did not make this decision based on the merits of the Clean Power Plan. This was another example of this Court making decisions on politically motivated lawsuits that have wide-spread, damaging effects. The Court voted to temporarily block the plan on ideological lines—all five of the conservative justices backed the stay. It is unprecedented for the Supreme Court to issue a stay on a rule that is currently pending lower court review. And this ruling happened despite the fact that the Clean Power Plan stands on strong legal footing: in 2014, the court ruled that the EPA had authority to limit carbon pollution from stationary sources, such as power plants. But now, the Supreme Court is temporarily blocking the EPA from implementing the rule to limit carbon pollution from power plants. However, the stay from the Supreme Court does not necessarily mean the court will ultimately rule against the plan. The Clean Power Plan will now go in front of the DC Circuit Court on an expedited schedule starting in June.

What this means:

This Supreme Court action is bad news for anyone who likes to breathe. The Clean Power Plan is the most ambitious action yet taken in the United States to slow global warming. It is expected to avoid thousands of premature deaths and result in thousands of fewer asthma attacks and hospitalizations in 2030 and beyond. Overall, the Clean Power Plan will lead to $54 billion in climate and health benefits. And the Clean Power Plan is incredibly popular with 67 percent of Americans supporting the plan’s carbon standards. Additionally, 365 business and investment leaders across the country support the Clean Power Plan, with businesses already transitioning to a clean energy economy.

Moving forward:

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block progress on the Clean Power Plan, states are moving forward with implementation plans in compliance with the Clean Power Plan and others should continue to do so. Power plants are the United States’ single largest source of carbon pollution, which exacerbates climate change, causes more asthma attacks and respiratory diseases, decreases air quality, and worsens extreme weather events.

BOTTOM LINE: The Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block the Clean Power Plan is influenced by politically motivated lawsuits and not based on legal merit or sound policy, and goes against significant public support for the Clean Power Plan.

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