Supreme Court delays enforcement of Clean Power Plan

By Erin Voegele | February 10, 2016

On Feb. 9, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request to delay enforcement of the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan until legal challenges are resolved.

According to information published by the Supreme Court, North Dakota submitted the application for a stay pending petitions for review on Jan. 29. On Feb. 9, the court indicated the Clean Power Plan regulation “is stayed pending disposition of the applicant’s petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and disposition of the applicant’s petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is sought. If a writ of certiorari is sought and the court denies the petition, this order shall terminate automatically. If the court grants the petition for a writ of certiorari, this order shall terminate when the court enters its judgement.”

When a party applies to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, it is asking the court to review a lower court’s decision. If the writ is denied by the Supreme Court, the lower court’s decision is allowed to stand.

North Dakota is not the only state that has asked the courts to delay implementation of the Clean Power Plan. EPA published the final rule for the Clean Power Plan in the Federal Register in October. Since then, more than two dozen states and a variety of industry groups and businesses have filed challenges against the program.

On Jan. 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a request for a stay regarding implementation of the Clean Power Plan. On Jan. 26, a group of 29 states, led by Texas and West Virginia, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay. North Dakota filed its petition with the Supreme Court a few days later, on Jan. 29.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement on the Supreme Court’s decision on Feb. 9. “We disagree with the Supreme Court's decision to stay the Clean Power Plan while litigation proceeds,” he said in the statement. “The Clean Power Plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, gives States the time and flexibility they need to develop tailored, cost-effective plans to reduce their emissions, and will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country, and major progress in our efforts to confront the risks posed by climate change. We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits. Even while the litigation proceeds, EPA has indicated it will work with states that choose to continue plan development and will prepare the tools those states will need.  At the same time, the administration will continue to take aggressive steps to make forward progress to reduce carbon emissions.”

In late January, the EPA set a date for its previously announced workshop regarding the role of biomass in the Clean Power Plan. That workshop is currently scheduled for April 7. A draft agenda is expected to be released soon.