Obama’s Climate Action Against Coal: Supreme Court’s Blocks The Power Plant Order

President Barack Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” has been stopped short by the Supreme Court of the United States. On Tuesday, it blocked the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” from going forward while the rule is challenged in court, while reacting to a lawsuit from 29 states, as well as the energy industry.

The Clean Power Plan sets achievable standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hold oral arguments in June in the challenge to the Clean Power Plan, and neither the industry nor the states would have had to come into compliance for at least two years.

Bruce Huber, professor of law at Notre Dame Law school, said as follows.

“This is an exceedingly uncommon situation for the court to step in, and it jeopardizes the plan altogether from going into effect while President Obama remains in office. The Supreme Court’s order signals serious misgivings among some of the justices about the legality of the plan.”

CNN reported that a divided Supreme Court stepped in at this juncture to block the program after a lower court declined to do so sends a signal that at least five justices are concerned with some aspect of the plan.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, the four liberal justices on the court, dissented from the order.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the following in a statement.

“The Clean Power Plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, gives states the time and flexibility they need to develop tailored, cost-effective plans to reduce their emissions, and will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country, and major progress in our efforts to confront the risks posed by climate change. We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits.”

Climate action is a key part of Obama’s legacy since the myriad efforts at the COP21 talks in Paris. Obama said the following in a video released last August.

“Power plants are the single biggest source of harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. Until now, there have been no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution plants dump in the air.”

The EPA rule would require states to meet specific carbon emission reduction standards based on their individual energy consumption. It also includes an incentive program for states to get a head start on meeting standards on early deployment of renewable energy.

Senior administration officials were surprised by the high court’s action but officials nonetheless expressed confidence in the president’s climate plan moving forward. One official said the following.

“We’ve always known that this rule was going to be litigated and that there were going to be opponents that were going to challenge the rule under any circumstances. And so I think the bottom line is that this decision is not one that we agree with, but it’s a procedural decision and we’ll have the opportunity to make the case on the merits.”

Supreme Court blocks Obama's Anti Coal, Clean Power Plan
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 29: Activists participate in the Global Climate March in front of the Reichstag Building on November 29, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The COP21 2015 Paris Climate Conference will begin on November 30, though due to the recent Paris terror attacks French police have banned activists from marching in Paris. Large-scale marches are instead taking place in other cities, including today in Berlin. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

The Obama administration’s actions on climate change have been regularly criticized on the campaign trail by Republican candidates.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the rule “unlawful” in a statement Tuesday.


“This rule should be struck down permanently before coal country is destroyed completely, and American consumers are consigned to higher energy prices.”

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, tweeted the following.

Jamie Henn of the environmental group 350.org. said the following.

“If there was ever a Supreme Court decision that looked backwards instead of towards the future, this was it.”

Climate change is no more an issue faced by a particular country or community, but the whole humanity needs to come together to try and save the planet. Obama’s plans regarding clean power are showing the way forward in that direction.

[Photo by Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia via Getty Images]