The Supreme Court’s unprecedented blocking of action on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Coal Plan” is a severe blow to this unwise plan itself even though it is only frozen, not killed.
Happily, it’s also a blow to President Obama’s scofflaw practice of “executive action.”
Twenty-six states and agencies of three others petitioned for a stay — a freeze — until courts could rule on the merits of the regulation that would practically make coal-fired electricity generation impossible under the rubric of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, a combustion product allegedly the cause of global warming.
The petition went first to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia where a three-judge panel denied the stay.
It’s hard to believe the question was decided 5-4 in the high court on procedural requirements for a stay alone, because both the state petitioners and the Justice Department on behalf of the EPA devoted much space in their briefs to the merits of the regulation itself.
The states said they were being impermissibly pressed into federal service in exactly the fashion that the Supreme Court had forbidden when, in upholding Obamacare, it voided a requirement that states expand Medicaid programs. Also, said the states, the plan violated a provision of the Clean Air Act that said power plants regulated under one section could not also be regulated under another as EPA desired.
Government lawyers said, among other things, a stay might put in jeopardy U.S. commitments under the Paris Accords for a 30 percent emissions reduction by 2030.
What it would have done is close hundreds of coal-fired plants around the country.
The five justices may have wanted to avoid a replay of last’s year’s action by the liberal-stacked appellate court on another EPA coal regulation. The Supreme Court held that the rule had been impermissibly adopted and sent it back to the lower court, which did nothing, accepting EPA’s arguments that the industry had gone too far to turn back.
The stay also could be an admonition to agencies and to lower courts: Don’t play games.
See the article here.
- On February 16, 2016