Justice Antonin Scalia Supreme Court nightmare scenario: Obama’s Clean Power Plan could be in the hands of the D.C. Circuit Court. One of Justice Antonin Scalia’s last official acts as a justice was to deliver a large dent in Obama’s climate legacy, providing one of five votes to stay the Clean Power Plan, which regulates carbon emissions from power plants. The decision could set back implementation of the rule by years. A 4-4 ideological split on the Supreme Court raises the stakes for the more liberal D.C. Circuit’s eventual decision on the Clean Power Plan, though the high court would still have to lift its stay if the rule is upheld…
Greens faced with nightmare scenario at the Supreme Court
Justice Antonin Scalia Supreme Court nightmare scenario: The Supreme Court’s decision this week to halt President Obama’s sweeping climate change regulation for power plants is causing environmentalists and experts to wonder whether they need a backup plan.
Justice Antonin Scalia Supreme Court nightmare scenario: The Obama administration has repeatedly said, both before and after the judicial stay was ordered, that it does not have a Plan B if the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan gets overturned. Officials insist that a backup plan isn’t necessary because once the high court hears the case, it will find that the rule is well within the boundaries of the Clean Air Act and the Constitution. “We remain confident that when this is given its day in court, it’s going to be upheld on the merits,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters.
Justice Antonin Scalia Supreme Court nightmare scenario: “Plan A’s a good one, and I don’t want anyone to think it isn’t,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in January. But the unexpected move by the Supreme Court nonetheless caused a jolt among environmentalists, reminding them that the nine justices at the Supreme Court might interpret the law differently than they do. “The Supreme Court took unprecedented action, so of course it makes everyone pause and reevaluate,” said John Coequyt, global climate policy director for the Sierra Club. It is the first time the high court has stayed a regulation after a lower court refused to do so, and the first time the justices have issued a stay before any court heard the merits of the case.
Justice Antonin Scalia Supreme Court nightmare scenario: Now the EPA cannot enforce any parts of the rule until the litigation is over, a major win for the states and energy interests who argued that, if the rule were allowed to proceed and later be overturned, they would experience irreparable harm. But since the Clean Power Plan is such a major piece of the administration’s climate policy, its downfall would make it difficult to achieve the emissions cuts needed to slow global warming and to meet the country’s pledge under last year’s Paris climate agreement. Complicating the matter is the timing. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has to hear the case and rule before the Supreme Court takes it up, putting any decision about the next steps in the hands of the next president.
Justice Antonin Scalia Supreme Court nightmare scenario: Additionally, if the Supreme Court rules against the EPA, its decision could be narrow — allowing the agency to try to rewrite the rule — or it could be broad, potentially prohibiting any future greenhouse gas regulations for power plants. Environmentalists were generally tight-lipped about what a Plan B might look like, instead repeating their confidence that the rule will stand.