Last week the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay in West Virginia et al. v. EPA et al, a lawsuit filed by dozens of states and industry groups challenging the constitutionality of the Environmental Protections Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. By granting a stay, the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited the EPA from engaging in actions to implement or enforce the Clean Power Plan, pending the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which currently has jurisdiction over the case. To obtain the stay, the opponents of the rule had to show that their case had a legitimate chance of succeeding based on the facts of the case and that irreparable harm would occur if the stay was not granted.
The Supreme Court’s decision shocked many, especially given the fact that a similar request was denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in January. According to Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor and former environmental legal counsel to the Obama Administration, the ruling suggests a “high degree of skepticism towards the Clean Power Plan…” The decision was unprecedented, as the Supreme Court had never before granted a request to halt a “generally applicable regulation” before review by a federal appeals court. While the Obama Administration has continued to defend the rule by arguing that it is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, opponents of the rule have applauded the ruling and are more confident than ever that the Clean Power Plan will not pass constitutional muster.
Utility Dive: Supreme Court puts Clean Power Plan on hold
The Washington Post: Placing the Clean Power Plan in context
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Contributing Author: Eric Hanson
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