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Supreme Court Puts Obama’s Clean Power Plan On Hold

Photo caption: President Barack Obama discusses the COP21 climate change summit during a new...

Photo by Associated Press

President Barack Obama discusses the COP21 climate change summit during a news conference at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Centre in Paris, Dec. 1, 2015.

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A divided Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to halt enforcement of President Barack Obama's sweeping plan to address climate change until after legal challenges are resolved.

The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations "an unprecedented power grab."

By temporarily freezing the rule the high court's order signals that opponents have made a strong argument against the plan. A federal appeals court last month refused to put it on hold.

Related: San Diego Commits To Slashing Greenhouse Gases

The court's four liberal justices said they would have denied the request.

The plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.

Appellate arguments are set to begin June 2.

The compliance period starts in 2022, but states must submit their plans to the Environmental Protection Administration by September or seek an extension.

California and San Diego both have their own carbon reduction mandates that are still in place. San Diego recently passed a Climate Action Plan that commits to cutting in half carbon emission by the year 2035.

Nicole Capretz, director of the nonprofit advocacy group Climate Action Campaign, told KPBS Midday Edition that the Supreme Court's decision is "a disappointment," but said it also "speaks to the need for change to start from the ground up."

"We need to get large cities and states to take action," she said. "What we are going to see is as more cities and mayors understand the implications of the dangers of climate change, what it will do to extreme weather conditions, what it will do to sea level rise and how it will impact their day-to-day day quality of life, there will be propulsion of local government officials telling the state and local governments they need to do more."

Many states opposing the plan depend on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas. They argued that power plants will have to spend billions of dollars to begin complying with a rule that may end up being overturned.

Implementation of the rules is considered essential to the United States meeting emissions-reduction targets in a global climate agreement signed in Paris last month. The Obama administration and environmental groups also say the plan will spur new clean-energy jobs.

To convince the high court to temporarily halt the plan, opponents had to convince the justices that there was a "fair prospect" the court would strike down the rule. The court also had to consider whether denying a stay would cause irreparable harm to the states and utility companies affected.


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