The Clean Power Plan: To Be or Not to Be?

The Clean Power Plan: To Be or Not to Be?

Last week, the Supreme Court put a temporary hold on the Clean Power Plan. Will this decision deal a fatal blow to our national climate action plan?
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The #CleanPower Plan: To be or not to be? by @SaraGBM @greenbuildermag

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Green Builder Media CEO, Sara Gutterman

Green Builder Media

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 7:05am

CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living


Last Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court unexpectedly halted the implementation of the Clean Power Plan rule, which requires states to lower carbon emissions from power plants by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. Because the rule is so stringent, many states will be forced to rely on a variety of methods to comply with targets, including adopting renewables, enhancing energy efficiency in buildings, and implementing carbon pricing or cap and trade systems.

When the Clean Power Plan was first introduced, 27 states filed lawsuits to overturn the rule, claiming that it is an over-reach of the EPA’s authority and that the onerous targets will inhibit economic growth. 29 states, in conjunction with special interest groups, also filed a petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to challenge the validity of the rule and delay its implementation. When the Court of Appeals denied the petition, the groups escalated the request to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s decision to place a temporary stay on the plan’s enforcement releases states from the responsibility and accountability of taking any kind of meaningful action until the courts decide whether or not the rule is legal.

Some claim that the Supreme Court has undermined the U.S.’s credibility when it comes to fulfilling the climate action commitment that we made in December at the COP21 meetings. These critics reason that if the U.S.—the world’s largest economy and second-biggest polluter—can’t make good on our pledge (namely, that we will cut our carbon levels by 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, with the Clean Power Plan playing a major role in our ability to reach that target), then other countries will be dissuaded from living up to their promises, particularly since there are no penalties for non-compliance in the Paris Agreement and the outcome depends on each country voluntarily hitting the stated targets.


CATEGORY: Environment