The DC Circuit panel hearing the appeals from the EPA's Clean Power Plan has rejected the effort of red/coal states and fossil fuel interests to stay implementation of the CPP until the litigation concluded. Happily, the State of Minnesota was on the side arguing that there was no basis for that argument that ongoing implementation of the CPP would "irreparably harm" the states.
Here is Joe Romm's take on the piece written for the New York Times by prominent climatologist Piers Sellers. Dr. Sellers was recently diagnosed with terminal Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, but has decided to keep working on climate communications because of the stakes involved.
Back from vacation, back to work. President Obama's comments on climate policy in the State of the Union address were a good way to start 2016.
"Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.
“But even if the planet wasn’t at stake; even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record – until 2015 turned out even hotter – why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?
“Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal – in jobs that pay better than average. We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy – something environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. Meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.
“Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.
“Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future – especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. That way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.
“None of this will happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo. But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve – that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.”
Yesterday's order from the Supreme Court can be found here. It was a 5-4 decision, breaking down on the usual lines, with Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, and Breyer in dissent.
This does not prevent any state from continuing to work on its implementation plans, and we certainly hope Minnesota does not slow down its efforts. The EPA will not be able to order states to do anything or impose any federal plan on them until after the Supreme Court has decided the case.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has the case on an expedited schedule, so it will be briefed and argued this spring and summer, and likely decided by the end of the year. The Supreme Court can then take the case up in its next Term, but would likely not decide it until early summer 2017.
It's a bad decision (see comments from California AG Kamala Harris), but it does not at all mean the rules are doomed. I think the EPA is on a solid legal footing, and even this Court has been generally upholding Clean Air Act decisions. It is not news that five members of the Court likely don't care for this rule (or very many environmental rules) but that does not mean one or two of those five won't vote to uphold it. As I've written about previously, the statutory interpretation argument the opponents are making is a lot like the argument about the state vs. federal health insurance exchanges that the Court, and Chief Justice Roberts, rejected just last year.