Supreme Court Blocks EPA-Enforced Air Pollution Rules, Threatens to Unravel Paris Climate Deal

The Supreme Court ruled to put a temporary hold on a crucial policy from the Paris climate deal.

Credit: Time

Credit: Time

In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court has decided to put a temporary hold on the initiative to put a limit on the carbon emissions from power plants before the federal appeals court has conducted their review, according to the New York Times.

The reason for the grant of stay by the Supreme Court was to appease the requests by officials from 30 states, mostly Republican-led, and certain interest groups whose business would be adversely affected by the policy to put a hold on the regulation and enforcement of the policy until their lawsuits against the EPA have been resolved.

The lawsuits come from the states who claim that many power plants would have to shut down in the short-term to begin drawing up plans and allocating money to change their current way of running the plants. When the federal appeals court that is currently reviewing the Clean Energy Plan denied the states’ request for a stay, according to NBC News, the states and groups approached the Supreme Court with the issue.

The EPA commented that the ruling for the hold was not necessary, since the policy did not need to be complied with until 2022 and working efficiently until 2030.

Credit: European Environment Agency

Credit: European Environment Agency

NBC News reported that this particular policy is the:

“centerpiece of the U.S. commitment to reach the pollution targets it pledged to meet at the UN climate summit in Paris.” 

The summit talks regarding climate change occurred late last year and were the subject of criticism and protests until the deal was reached in favor of making large strides to reduce each nation’s impact on climate.

The policy certainly is the largest regulation introduced to the U.S. from the deal and its hold, no matter how temporary, threatens to deal a significant blow in the long term to the rule. The ruling indicates a hesitancy in the Supreme Court to rule in favor of implementing the policy once it likely reaches the Court in the future. Since the ruling was a close 5-4 decision, with the liberal members voting against the decision, the uneven split amongst the justices could make or break the policy.

Despite this surprising ruling, the EPA remains optimistic about the future of the policy. Vickie Patton, part of the general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund who is involved in the case, told The Wall Street Journal that,

“Once the court takes a look at these issues on the merits, EPA’s Clean Power Plan will prove to be anchored in law and science.”

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