STORY UPDATED WITH ENERGY CABINET NEWS AND STATEMENT: In a 5-4 vote Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court has temporarily halted implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon dioxide from existing power plants. This past January, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce representing 15 business associations along with several states appealed a lower courts decision to not issue the stay. The Supreme Court quickly took up the petition and ruled late Tuesday against implementing the Clean Power Plan while it is litigated.
The decision does not mean the Court has ruled that the regulation is illegal, but in order to receive a judicial stay of a regulation, petitioners must make the case that it causes irreparable harm and that arguments against the rule have merit. The Court gave no details about their opinion on the legality of the rule in its order, but the decision to stay the rule indicates the petitioners made a compelling argument against the regulation.
“We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to put this rule on hold. It is imperative that the court issues its final decision on the regulation before it is enforced to prevent Kentucky businesses from paying unnecessarily higher energy costs,” Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Director Kate Shanks said Wednesday.
The rule will continue to be reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit under an expedited schedule. Oral arguments will begin June 2. It is expected that regardless of the outcome of the Court of Appeals decision a request will be made for review by the Supreme Court. Provided this occurs, a stay will remain in place until the Supreme Court chooses not to take up the case or until it takes up the case and renders a final decision. The final ruling on the regulation will likely not occur until sometime in 2017 after the president has left office.
Governor Bevin has been very critical of the rule and supported efforts to fight it. Governor Bevin issued the following statement Tuesday evening, “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a huge win in the fight against Obama’s disastrous Clean Power Plan. The Court’s decision to freeze these illegal climate regulations is a victory in our efforts to save our coal jobs and protect Kentucky families from skyrocketing energy prices. We will continue to challenge these regulations as the litigations continue in court.”
Kentucky is among the coalition of states fighting the rules. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, Governor Bevin had announced plans to hold listening sessions across the Commonwealth in preparation for an upcoming deadline to request an extension for submitting a compliance plan. However, the stay will push back the rule’s deadlines until a final decision is made.
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, the Energy and Environment Cabinet has deferred its plans to conduct listening sessions later this year.
Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely provided the following explanation for cancelling the sessions, “Conducting listening sessions at this time is premature because the CPP could change substantially as a result of litigation, or it could be vacated altogether. The CPP’s unprecedented requirements have placed states in an untenable position relative to electricity generation, threatening energy affordability and reliability.”