The US plan to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in order to control climate change is in very serious danger of never seeing the light of day given the Supreme Court decision late Tuesday night to place a stay on the plan until lower court disputes are resolved.
The five conservative justices acted precipitously, even before the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia hears the challenge brought by 27 states and several business groups against Clean Power Plan, established by President Obama. The Court of Appeals had previously refused to block the Plan saying the litigant’s had not meet the requirements for such an action.
This unprecedented action by the Supreme Court is an ominous sign for the future of Obama’s climate change agenda. The judges, in accepting the applicants’ appeal, demonstrated a sympathy with the argument that the Plan is an abuse of presidential power that is too onerous for both states and the industry.
This is a major blow to Obama’s legacy since the Supreme Court’s final decision will not be cast until 2017 when Obama is no longer in office. Even worse is the damage to the image and credibility of United States, one of the world’s biggest polluters, as it appears unable to commit to significantly reducing emissions impacting climate change despite everything that was said and done at the Paris Summit.
The most regrettable fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision is that it protects an outdated energy system based on coal instead of, for example, one based on natural gas. Once again, business interests prevailed over concerns about the environment. This is a battle that should no longer exist.
The energy industry resists changes to meet the emissions reduction targets set by Clean Energy Plan. They even continue to dispute now indisputable scientific evidence. The reality is the industry must change its economic model of environmental pollution or else there won’t be a planet left where it can sell its products.
Throughout human history, major events have forced business and industry to change. This is one of those moments. Unfortunately the Supreme Court has voted to uphold the dirty past instead of a cleaner future.