In a significant rejection of President Obama’s climate change agenda, the Supreme Court, on Tuesday, Feb. 9, temporarily blocked an attempt to limit the maximum amount of emissions stemming from coal power plants.
This short-term decision from the Supreme Court, which voted five to four in favor of halting the regulations, came after a group of 29 states and multiple industry groups brought a case to the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the directive of the Obama administration.
The Clean Power Plan, an initiative announced in August of 2015, attempts to implement a limit to the amount of carbon emissions produced by power plants, as well as to encourage a trend towards a cleaner and more energy-efficient America.
The decree from the Obama administration followed the Paris climate talks in the fall of 2015.
Its temporary rejection raises questions in the minds of many other nations regarding America’s commitment to the Paris treaty.
The Clean Power Plan is tangible evidence for President Obama’s commitment to the treaty as well as action on climate change. The repeal of this initiative, while temporary, raises questions surrounding the commitment of the United States to take action regarding climate change and clean energy.
The temporary rejection of this measure may delay the implementation of regulations much further than the anticipated compliance deadline of summer 2016.
With the delay possibly lasting beyond the change in presidency, a degree of uncertainty regarding the success of the regulations is evident, as action on climate change has been a hotly debated topic on the 2016 campaign trail.
A Democratic presidency following the change in administration would serve to bolster the Clean Power Plan, while a Republican presidency would almost certainly spell doom for such regulations.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is noteworthy in that it is one of the few times the court has ever voted in favor of terminating a regulation or directive from the White House.
Due to the unique nature of the Court’s ruling, there is a high degree of ambiguity regarding how temporary the decision will be, or the likelihood that the measure will be permanently rejected.
A statement from the White House cast a ray of optimism on the ultimate success of the regulations.
The White House remarked, “The administration will continue to take aggressive steps to make forward progress to reduce carbon emissions.”
Industry groups, as well as the various states that brought the challenge to the U.S. Court of Appeals, applauded the decision as an economically beneficial verdict that would allow the coal and oil plant industries to increase jobs.
The Supreme Court’s decision will temporarily block the implementation of the Clean Power Plan.
This is a significant blow to Obama’s climate agenda, and adds importance to the fervently contested 2016 presidential race.