The US Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday ordered [order, PDF] that the Obama administration delay enforcement of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] Clean Power Plan (CPP) [materials] pending a resolution to legal challenges. The 5-4 decision was written in five identical orders to respond to five different stay applications [text, PDF] brought by 29 states and state agencies. The order came despite arguments [AP report] by the EPA that states had plenty of time to comply with the rule’s requirements and that a delay would postpone reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, thus contributing to the problem of climate change. A similar request was previously rejected [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website]. The plan is meant to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by roughly one third by 2030. Arguments will be heard in this case by the DC Circuit in June.
The request to block the implementation of the CPP was made in late January, with states insisting [JURIST report] that the plan’s implementation would create a burden on states. Regulating power plan emissions has been a contentious issue. In June the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 split, ruled [JURIST report] that the EPA could not make regulations regarding the toxic emissions of power plants without considering costs. In August the EPA proposed new rules [JURIST report] to cut methane emissions by the oil and gas industry as part of the Obama administration’s commitment to taking action on climate change. Also in August the US District Court of the District of North Dakota granted a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against a rule granting the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction over small US waterways. In another recent case involving the Clean Water Act [JURIST report], two environmental groups filed a lawsuit last December against the EPA accusing the agency of failing to comply with a court order to strengthen storm drain pollution regulation. The presently disputed Clean Power plan was announced [statement, video] by US President Barack Obama in an attempt to to improve air quality and reduce green house gas emissions