The US Supreme Court has put on hold federal regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions from the country’s fossil power plants.
The court voted 5-4 against the plan, which mainly effects coal-fired power plants.
It was based on a request by 27 states, companies and business groups to block the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which also mandates a shift to renewable energy away from fossil fuels.
The plan must now go through the lower courts in order to establish legality, and the White House believes the rule will survive the challenge.
The plan was designed to lower carbon emissions from US power plants by 2030 to 32 percent below 2005 levels. It is the main tool for the United States to meet the emissions reduction target it pledged at U.N. climate talks in Paris in December.
According to the FT a senior official said after the hearing that the US will deliver on its commitments and take “new and additional steps” to lead internationally on climate change.
There is a strong possibility that the rule may not survive as it increases the chances that the conservative-leaning Supreme Court would take the case after a lower court issues a decision on the legality of the regulations and ultimately would strike it down.
Tom Donahue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the high court stay “will ensure that America will not be forced to make costly and irreversible implementation decisions based upon an unprecedented regulation until judicial review is complete.”
Under the EPA rule, each state must submit a plan to comply with its emission-reduction target by September 2016 but can also request a two-year extension.
The challengers contended that the Obama administration exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act, the key law that addresses air pollution.
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