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Supreme Court Grants Stay of Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Published 2.11.16

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, granted stay of implementation of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by approximately one-third by 2030, pending disposition of the applicants’ petitions for review in the D.C. Circuit Court and disposition of the applicants’ petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is sought.  The ruling is a victory for the coalition of states and industry participants, many of whom depend on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas.

The application for a stay was submitted directly to Chief Justice Roberts, who then referred the matter to the full panel of justices for decision.  The 5-4 decision went along traditional lines, with conservative justices ruling in favor of, and more liberal justices inclined to rule against, a stay.

Petitioners submitted the application after the District Court refused to stay the CPP while it considered the challenges to it.  The Supreme Court’s granting of the stay at this juncture of the proceedings is unusual and may be an indication that some members of the Court believe that there are problems with the CPP that may not survive certiorari.