Supreme Court issues stay on Clean Power Plan, siding with coalition of states

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A blow to the Obama Administration’s and the federal EPA’s Clean Power Plan came down from the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court issued a stay on the Power Plan, temporarily blocking its implementation while the case proceeds.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called the ruling a huge victory for West Virginia, as the the Power Plan would regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants, attempting to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by one-third by the year 2030.

“It’s a good day for West Virginia,” he said triumphantly. “We begin our comeback in earnest.”

West Virginia and Texas led a coalition of 29 states and state agencies in challenging the legality of the Power Plan.

“We took the lead in this effort. We drove this process over the last year-and-a-half,” said Morrisey. “We did it in order to really protect coal miners and their families. This is the beginning of our effort to really see more relief for the state of West Virginia.”

Chief Justice Roberts, as well as Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito and Thomas formed the majority in the decision, with Justices Bader Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan dissenting.

“This is an unprecedented stay. We believe a stay of this type has never been granted before at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Morrisey said. “The stay is in place at least until this gets back to the (Court) on the merits.”

Implementation of the Power Plan is considered essential to the United States meeting emissions-reduction targets set in a global climate agreement signed in Paris last month.

The Obama administration and environmental groups maintain the plan will bring about new clean-energy jobs, but Morrisey said even just the introduction of the plan, which he called “illegal and unprecedented” has hurt the Mountain State.

“The mere issuance of this regulation a year-and-a-half ago has really had a catatastrophic effect on the state of West Virginia and many other states,” he said. “Today’s a day we begin our comeback, and I’m pleased we can do so while the rule is frozen.”

Third District Congressman Evan Jenkins and First District Congressman David McKinley praised the ruling in statements released late Tuesday night.

“This administration is using every regulation possible to put our hardworking coal miners in the unemployment line, but the Supreme Court just put the brakes on the EPA’s cornerstone anti-coal regulation,” Jenkins said in part of the release. This action is a major victory for West Virginia, and we will continue the fight in both the courts and in Congress.”

“President Obama’s regulations on coal-fired power plants represent a massive overreach that rests on shaky Constitutional ground. The Supreme Court’s decision today is a victory for West Virginia, coal mining families, and people everywhere who will face higher utility bills if this plan goes into effect,” McKinley stated.

The D.C. Circuit Court will hear oral arguments on the merits of the states’ cases on June 2. A final ruling from that court may not come for several months.

The compliance period starts in 2022, but states must submit plans to the EPA by September of this year or seek an extension.

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