Political Focus: The Clean Power Plan

Melissa Deatsch

What’s the issue?

Early last week, the Supreme Court stepped in to block President Obama’s latest plan to combat climate change.  The plan, entitled the Clean Power Plan, requires states to meet carbon emission reduction standards individualized for each state.

Additionally, the plan creates an incentive program for states to begin meeting standards of using renewable energy and low-income energy efficiency.

After the plan was announced in early August, it saw backlash with a lawsuit from the energy industry as well as 29 U.S. States.  The U.S. Court of Appeals will hold oral arguments in June on the plan.  However, for the time being, the Supreme Court has paused the implementation of the policy.


Why should you care?

The fact that the Supreme Court stepped in at this time is unprecedented.

Neither the states nor the energy industry would be required to meet any standards for two years and the U.S. Court of Appeals will hear the case in June. The fact that the Supreme Court took action this early leads many to believe that they have serious issues with the plan Obama has proposed.

The decision was reached with a 5-to-4 vote with all of the court’s liberal judges on the opposing side of the courts decision.  The decision makes it very unlikely that the policy will be enacted while Obama is still in office.

The Supreme Court’s decision may also draw some attention from other nations that signed on to the Paris Climate Change pact in December which requires all the countries to enact policies lower emissions.  At the negotiations for that deal, Obama pointed to this plan as the standard other countries should follow.


What are the sides?

Proponents of the deal are shocked by the Supreme Court’s decision, but the Obama Administration released a statement saying they remain confident that the plan will ultimately prevail.

“I think the bottom line is that this decision is not one that we agree with, but it’s a procedural decision and we’ll have the opportunity to make the case on the merits,” one official said.

The states involved in the lawsuit are mostly those with economies that rely heavily on the coal industry.  Even though the first deadline to meet regulations isn’t until 2022 the states claim they have already had to start spending money to accommodate the requirements.

The states and energy industry are calling this a “power grab” by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency.) However, the Obama Administration alongside the EPA feels that this is nothing more than taking the appropriate steps to combat climate change before it is too late.

“Power plants are the single biggest source of harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change,” Obama said in a video released after the announcement of the plan. “Until now, there have been no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution plants dump in the air.”

The President’s administration is not surprised by the pushback it’s receiving from the states and energy industry.  They remain confident in the legality of their plan.

The Court has expedited the case and will hear arguments on June 2.