With a 5 to 4 vote the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Obama’s administration’s effort to combat global warming until after legal challenges are resolved.
The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 29 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations “an unprecedented power grab.”
The Clean Power Plan aims to cut U.S. power plant emissions 32% by 2030 by forcing states to write plans to reduce emissions from the energy sector. The rule will essentially force states to shut down coal-fired power plants and use more natural gas and green energy to get electricity.
Many states opposing the plan depend on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas. They argued that power plants will have to spend billions of dollars to begin complying with a rule that may end up being overturned.
The White House said in a statement that it disagreed with the court’s decision and remained confident that it would ultimately prevail. “The administration will continue to take aggressive steps to make forward progress to reduce carbon emissions,” it said.
Opponents of Mr. Obama’s climate policy called the court’s action historic.
“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,” said Patrick Morrisey, the attorney general of West Virginia, which has led the 29-state legal challenge.
A federal appeals court in Washington last month refused to put the plan on hold. That lower court is not likely to issue a ruling on the legality of the plan until months after it hears oral arguments begin on June 2.
Any decision will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, meaning resolution of the legal fight is not likely to happen until after Obama leaves office.