By Michael Bastasch
The U.S. Supreme Court just delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama’s global warming agenda by halting the implementation of a key Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation on carbon dioxide emissions.
The court won’t allow the EPA to implement its so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030. This is a big win for the 29 states suing the federal government to stop a rule expected to cripple the coal industry.
“Five justices of the Supreme Court agreed with North Dakota and other parties that EPA’s regulation would impose massive irreparable harms on North Dakota and the rest of the country and that there was a substantial likelihood EPA was acting unlawfully,” Paul Seby, an attorney with law firm Greenberg Traurig representing the state of North Dakota, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
States asked the Supreme Court to halt implementation of the CPP after a lower court rejected their appeal in January. Now, Morrisey and the Obama administration will make their oral arguments on the merits of the law in front of federal judges in June.
“Make no mistake – this is a great victory for West Virginia,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who’s leading the states against the EPA, in a statement on the announcement.
Morrisey argues the CPP amounts to “double regulating” by the EPA, since coal-fired power plants — the main target of the rule — are already being regulated under another provision of the Clean Air Act. States also argue the CPP is in effect a federal takeover of their energy policies.
“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.
This is the second major EPA regulation to be held up by the courts in recent months. Last year, federal judges issued a stay on an agency rule redefining “waters of the United States” — this sparked backlash from nearly every industry from farmers to energy producers.
But defeating the CPP in court may not be as easy as states think, since the Obama administration will likely argue striking down these rules would go against international commitments made by the U.S. in Paris last year.
In December, the U.S. joined nearly 200 countries in pledging to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming. Obama promised to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
The Obama administration, however, may have problems of its own because it has not gotten the agreement ratified by the Senate — a key requirement for a legally binding treaty. This has only added to the confusion of whether or not the United Nations Paris deal is legally a treaty or not.
“This will be a fatal blow to the president’s climate agenda,” Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, told The DCNF.
“This shows just how far the Obama administration has gone — they went too far,” Pyle said.
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