On Tuesday February 9th, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a temporary stay of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Clean Power Plan. This means the federal government and states are not required to move forward with implementing the Clean Power Plan while the U.S. Court of Appeals hears the legal case. While it is very disappointing, this unusual decision does not overturn the Clean Power Plan.
The Clean Power Plan has a solid foundation in existing law under the Clean Air Act and many legal experts predict the Plan will prevail in the courts. The stay is a pause button – not a permanent decision nor a decision on the merits of the case. We’re hopeful that the U.S. Court of Appeals will uphold the Clean Power Plan, just as it already has upheld EPA’s authority to limit carbon pollution from power plants under the Clean Air Act. But whatever the final legal outcome, the fact remains that as a nation we must move forward with addressing climate change.
As John Nielsen, Western Resource Advocates’ Clean Energy Program Director says, “While courts can stay the Clean Power Plan, the impacts of climate change can be stayed only by actions to reduce carbon emissions. For the sake of all who inhabit the planet, the transition to a cleaner energy future must continue.”
The nation is already moving on this path toward cleaner energy, and the West is often in the lead. Over the past decade, western states have invested in thousands of megawatts of renewable energy, expanded programs that encourage more efficient energy use, closed many of the region’s oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants, and enacted renewable energy standards and other laws to move us toward a clean energy economy. Westerners, and indeed Americans, overwhelmingly support these efforts. A 2016 Conservation in the West Poll commissioned by the State of the Rockies Project found that solar and wind continue to be the top two energy sources Westerners most want to encourage in their state.
The Clean Power Plan will help expand and accelerate the progress we are making on clean energy. Economically, the Clean Power Plan is anticipated to produce $54 billion in health and climate benefits. This national plan is smart policy for our health, our climate, and our economic future. So it should be no surprise that forward-thinking leaders in the utility sector, as well as financial and government leaders, want to keep the momentum going. On February 10th, the states of Colorado and Virginia, for example, announced they are moving forward with implementing the Clean Power Plan regardless of the stay.
Because of past actions, western states are already well positioned to comply with the Clean Power Plan. For example, Colorado achieves approximately 75%-80% of the Clean Power Plan’s target emission rates with existing plans. Nevada is almost 100% of the way there. Various western states’ existing plans to invest in clean renewable energy, advance energy efficiency, and transition older, more polluting coal plants to cleaner sources of energy are significantly reducing emissions.
Western Resource Advocates has been advancing clean energy for over two decades and we will not waver in our efforts to advance a clean energy future. Americans everywhere know a clean energy future is necessary to sustain our high quality of life and to protect our land, air, and water for future generations to enjoy.