In a surprise move, the U.S. Supreme Court called an abrupt halt to President Obama’s sweeping power plant regulations, dealing a blow to the administration’s plan to combat global warming.
In a 5-4 decision released late on Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced a hold on Obama’s regulations until current court challenges are concluded. The decision was made along the court’s left/right divide, with the four liberal judges all voting against the hold.
The ruling was a victory for the group of 27 state attorneys general seeking to put a halt to regulations opponents have called “an unprecedented power grab.”
The scheme, called the Clean Power Plan, forms the central part of Obama’s plan to fight global warming by cutting the power industry’s carbon emissions by 32 percent over 2005 levels by 2030. The plan is tailored for each state individually, forcing more stringent requirements on some states than on others.
One of the attorneys general involved in the lawsuit aimed at invalidating Obama’s power plan, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, was “thrilled” with the ruling.
“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court realized the rule’s immediate impact and froze its implementation, protecting workers and saving countless dollars as our fight against its legality continues,” Morrisey said according to Fox News.
The White House and environmentalist groups have hailed the plan as the best shot at reducing global warming and have criticized the mostly Republican AGs and their lawsuit.
“I am not surprised that our Republican critics have rushed to the courts to try and prevent something they weren’t able to do legislatively,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said of the lawsuit late last year. “But we believe that this approach has been shaped by data, shaped by science, and represents a balanced, pragmatic view of how to tackle this.”
The hold order likely means Obama’s signature global warming plan will never be implemented during his final year in the White House.
If fully implemented, Obama’s “clean power” plan would force the closing of up to 40 percent of coal-based generating capacity across the nation and is a plan many call an “all out war on coal.”
Total job loss from the plan could be as high as 280,809 jobs as the administration shutters coal-fired power plants and related industries.
Since Obama took office, already some 50,000 jobs in the power industry have been lost between 2008 and 2012.
The Supreme Court’s decision is a reversal from an earlier ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency had the legal power to force the rules on the nation. Late in January the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the regulations must be implemented while a final judgment on the challenges is decided.
The rules that would cause energy costs to skyrocket should come as no surprise. In fact, as a presidential candidate in 2008 Barack Obama admitted as much. He told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle that under his plan coal power plants will be bankrupted and everyone’s electric bills would “necessarily skyrocket.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com