Supreme Court Stays Obama's Clean Power Plan

Date: February 10, 2016 Last Edit: February 17, 2016

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Power Plan On Hold Until Lower Court Cases Decided

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a stay request from 27 states as well as the NFIB and other business groups and individual companies to block implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan while it’s being challenged in lower courts. The Washington Post said that in granting the stay, the court didn’t address “the merits of the challenge” to the EPA’s effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but the decision “indicates that the justices think the states have raised serious questions.” As a result of the stay, “questions about the legality of the program will remain after Obama leaves office,” the Post said. 

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According to the New York Times, although Tuesday’s order “was not the last word on the case,” the high court’s “willingness to issue a stay while the case proceeds was an early hint that the program could face a skeptical reception from the justices,” who are likely to hear the case “after an appeals court considers an expedited challenge.” McClatchy called the Supreme Court’s action a victory for the states, which argued that the Clean Power Plan was unconstitutional. Reuters described the decision as a significant blow to President Obama because the EPA plan is at the heart of his strategy to tackle climate change. The Los Angeles Times reported that Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito “in support of the order” while the court’s “four liberal justices dissented”: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

What This Means For Small Businesses

The Supreme Court’s decision to stay implementation of the aggressive regulatory policy found in the EPA’s CPP is a positive step for small business owners. Commenting to CNN, NFIB Small Business Legal Center Executive Director Karen Harned said, “What the court said today is that states cannot be forced to comply with a regulation that it may ultimately decide is unconstitutional. This is a temporary but important victory for small businesses, which were facing substantially higher energy costs.”

Additional Reading

Also providing coverage of the Supreme Court order were Bloomberg News, The Hill, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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