Supreme Court Power Plant Stay A ‘Monumental Victory’ for the Rule of Law

Smoke rises from the chimney at NRG Energy's Joliet Station power plant on May 7, 201
Scott Olson/Getty Images

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says the Supreme Court’s decision to stay enforcement of the Obama administration’s “illegal” coal power plant regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency is an “unprecedented victory” for the rule of law.

Morrisey and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are lead plaintiffs for the more than two dozen states appealing a lower federal court’s decision. Their action resulted in yesterday’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision staying enforcement of the new EPA coal power plant rules. The men held a hastily scheduled joint press conference call Wednesday.

“Yesterday, my office, General Paxton from Texas, and a bipartisan group of 29 states and state agencies, obtained an historic stay from the U.S. Supreme Court to freeze the implementation of President Obama’s illegal and unprecedented Clean Power play,” Morrisey says.

“This is a monumental victory for West Virginia, the country, and the rule of law,” he continued.

As Breitbart News reported previously, the EPA’s coal power plant rules to force a reduction in carbon dioxide admissions, finalized in June, had no basis in statutory authority:

Nowhere in the Clean Air Act, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, or the United States Code of Statutes can one find the language the EPA uses to claim it has statutory authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions in general, or carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants specifically.

“But most importantly,” Morrisey added, “this Supreme Court decision is a win for coal miners and their families here in the Mountain State.”

“For years, I have fought Obama administration overreach, and I’ve worked to stop these illegal EPA regulations that violate the rule of law, and compromise our way of life here in West Virginia,” Morrisey said.

“We’ve had success in those efforts. We’ve prevailed against the Obama administration in obtaining a stay of the Waters of the United States rule. We had a big victory in the Michigan v. EPA case, something that served as a key case law precedent for winning the stay yesterday,” he noted.

“But yesterday’s decision to stay the president’s power plan is truly historic,” Morrisey said.

“We’re going to send a message,” he added, “that the rule of law will be upheld in the United States.”

Texas Attorney General Paxton also weighed in on the Supreme Court stay.

“Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court put a stop to the EPA’s attempt to impose its new power rules into the lives of Americans coast to coast,” Paxton said.

“Simply put, the EPA has placed the livelihood of far too many people on the line when it attempted to impose these misguided rules on the country,” Paxton added.

The EPA’s coal power plant regulations requiring the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions have been controversial from their inception, for two reasons—lack of statutory authority and manipulation of the administrative law procedures.

Breitbart News reported previously that carbon dioxide is not listed as a pollutant in the Clean Air Act of 1990:

The 1,500 page rule, “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,” established “final emission guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs),” and calls for three specific standards:

1) Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission performance rates representing the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for two subcategories of existing fossil fuel-fired EGUs – fossil fuel-fired electric utility steam generating units and stationary combustion turbines

2) State-specific CO2 goals reflecting the CO2 emission performance rates

3) Guidelines for the development, submittal and implementation of state plans that establish the state goals.

The standards are so draconian they are quite likely, if implemented, to put the nation’s entire coal industry out of business. “The sweeping new regulations set a goal of reducing carbon emissions nationwide by 32 percent by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels,” as press reports note.

Currently, coal is the source for 39% of the electrical power in the United States.

As Breitbart News also reported previously, Obama campaign operatives successfully interfered in the administrative law procedures that resulted in the final coal power plant regulation:

Political insiders are working to generate millions of astroturfed comments from Barack Obama’s former Presidential campaign operation,now called Organizing for Action, and left wing environmental groups. The latest instance of this propaganda operation was seen in the rule making process that resulted in the recently finalized “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” rule.

Though the Supreme Court’s stay means that none of the plaintiff states will be required to implement the new Coal Power Plant rules, that freeze is temporary until the federal courts reach a final determination on the case currently under consideration in a federal district court.

As Breitbart legal editor Ken Klukowski wrote after the decision to stay the regulation was announced:

It is now almost certain that the [Supreme] Court will take the case, to consider whether the EPA is exercising power far exceeding what Congress granted the agency in the Clean Air Act. Arguments would likely be heard in the late fall, with a decision in early 2017.

If the five Supreme Court justices who supported the stay—Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Kennedy, and Scalia—all remain on the bench until the case is decided, odds are good that the Court’s final decision will rule on behalf of the plaintiff states and against the Obama administration’s EPA.

The ongoing case is likely to be a topic of the 2016 presidential race, where Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are likely to appoint Supreme Court justices who would align with the four member minority in this case. Similarly, a Republican president in 2017 would be likely to appoint Supreme Court justices who would align with the five member majority.


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