Supreme Court Stays Implementation of Clean Power Plan

Dealing a major blow to the Obama administration’s climate agenda, the U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote stayed implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan (CPP) pending a decision on its legality in the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals.

The one-page order gives no explanation for the court’s action, but issuance of a stay typically means a court believes the requesting party’s argument has merit and that it would suffer irreparable harm if the stay were not granted. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy voted to issue the stay.

The CPP is being challenged by a coalition of 27 states and other groups that argue it goes beyond the EPA’s authority to regulate emissions under the Clean Air Act. The D.C. Circuit had previously denied a request to stay its implementation.

How much this will delay implementation of the CPP is uncertain, as the case is being heard on an expedited basis. The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear arguments on the case June 2, and a decision could come any time thereafter. EPA officials have said the litigation will not stop the agency from continuing its work on the CPP.

—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine).