The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday voted 5-4 to suspend implementation of the federal Clean Power Plan in the face of an ongoing court battle. Ohio is among more than two dozen states pushing for the CPP to be thrown out over their protests that the federal government overstepped its authority in releasing the rule. The plan is aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 2030 by 32% of 2005 levels. But opponents contend the plan will drive up electricity rates, hamper service reliability, and provide little environmental benefits. The stay was granted along ideological lines, with the order noting that the court's liberal justices - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan - would have denied the application for a stay. The order was unique in that it precedes a lower court ruling on the issue that isn't expected until sometime after oral arguments begin in June.
Attorney General Mike DeWine, who in October filed to join the unfolding lawsuit, said in a statement Wednesday he was pleased by the development. "This unlawful power plan is a power grab to force states into policies Congress has rejected and that would fundamentally alter the economies of states like Ohio," Mr. DeWine said. "This stay is a significant victory, and the 'Power Plan' is yet another example of the Obama Administration overstepping its authority."
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler similarly praised the ruling. "By staying U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, the Supreme Court got it right," he said. "The State of Ohio has pointed out the serious legal shortcomings of the federal Clean Power Plan on numerous occasions. We will evaluate the decision and determine how it will impact our plans moving forward."
But Mike Hartley, executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, said the stay should have no bearing on Ohio's clean energy efforts, adding that "Ohio must move forward." "While Ohio's conservative leaders have been suspect of the Obama Administration's plan, we must not allow the Clean Power Plan delay to serve as an excuse to keep Ohio's energy future on hold," Mr. Hartley said. "Such a move would be misguided and result in the state falling even further behind the rest of the nation." Uncertainty surrounding the CPP was among the reasons the Energy Mandates Committee cited in September for its recommendation to continue indefinitely a freeze on Ohio's renewable energy mandates.
Last year, the General Assembly pass a resolution (HCR 29) formally opposing the CPP. The measure passed the House 96-1 and the Senate 32-1.
Ohio Coal Association President Christian Palich called the ruling called it a victory for "Ohio coal families and energy consumers." "Congress and now our highest court have ruled against the illegal actions of radical EPA bureaucrats, bringing us one step closer to defeating this agenda and ensuring our energy grid has access to reliable and affordable power," Mr. Palich said.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, which filed an amicus brief supporting the stay, also applauded the ruling. "In Ohio's continued pursuit of building a healthy and diverse economy, few things are more important than preserving access to affordable, reliable and predictable sources of energy," Chamber Director of Energy & Environmental Policy Charles Willoughby said in a statement. "Manufacturers and other businesses must have access to energy solutions that best meet their needs, free from government interference and overly burdensome regulatory controls that stifle healthy economic growth."
Ellen Eilers, field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force in Ohio, called the "disappointing and surprising" "However, this pause does not dismantle the work that has been completed so far to reduce carbon emissions under the plan. We remain confident that the plan will be upheld-on its merits," she said. "We urge leaders in our state to keep working out the details of Ohio's compliance with the plan."