Why the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Clean Power Plan Won’t Stop the Clean Energy Revolution
Last week, the Supreme Court stunned supporters of climate action by temporarily freezing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The ruling could be setback for the EPA and for America’s contribution to the Paris climate agreement. But as this Washington Post article argues, it doesn’t mean an end to the transition to clean energy. The Clean Power Plan wasn’t due to fully take effect until 2022 – in the meantime, the creation of a low-carbon economy has already begun, and is bound to continue.
Clean energy has been growing by leaps and bounds across the country. Renewable energy production is projected to grow almost 10 percent in 2016. Last year, greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels actually went down. And several states are planning to move ahead with steps for compliance with the Clean Power Plan, regardless of the court’s decision. Many state governments realize that climate change creates risks to their local economy and the health of their residents, and that climate action is the best way to address those risks. But even aside from that, they are seeing the multiple benefits of moving to clean energy, from cleaner air and water to the creation of new jobs. They know that fossil fuels are dirty, producing them is expensive, and transporting them is dangerous. Transitioning to wind and solar power is a win-win.
Note: Shortly after this post was written, Justice Scalia passed away. It’s too early to tell what effect, if any, this will have on the court’s ruling. In any case, clean energy seems to have reached a crucial tipping point.
By Chris Mooney, contributor to The Washington Post
Tuesday night, even as votes were being tallied in New Hampshire, the Supreme Court shocked many — including the Obama administration — by putting on hold the president’s signature climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, pending resolution of a lawsuit against it by a number of states, utilities and coal companies.
Everybody knew the Clean Power Plan would face major legal challenges, but few thought they’d significantly derail it so early on. One legal expert, the Sierra Club’s Bruce Nilles, told the Post it was “unprecedented for the Supreme Court to stay a rule at this point in litigation. They do this in death-penalty cases.”
Given litigation timelines, the move suggests that the fate of the plan now may not even be decided until after Obama has left office, in 2017. Moreover, the stay also suggests the Supreme Court’s conservative majority looks askance at the plan and sees the challenges against it as serious. This means the next president could now be a major player in setting — or un-making — the nation’s climate policy.
Image credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci