Green Cities

Unprecedented Supreme Court Decision Endangers EPA’s Clean Climate Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Climate Plan (CCP), announced this past August, is the national plan to decrease each state’s greenhouse gas emissions by a third of their 2005 baseline emissions.  Electricity plants that burn fossil fuels are America’s largest source of carbon emissions, which pumped out a massive 31% of the total greenhouse gasses back in 2013. This is America’s most drastic move to cut greenhouse gas emissions as of right now, but it unfortunately suffered a setback due to a Supreme Court decision made February 9th. On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court granted a stay of implementation on the CCP, due to the applications filed by both twenty-nine states and several energy industry groups opposing the plan. This means that the CCP has been put on hold for several months until the Supreme Court begins hearings regarding the constitutionality of the EPA’s actions, which will occur on June 2nd. Describing the entire decision as, “extraordinary and unprecedented”, EPA representative Donald Verrilli stated that the judiciary review of the plan will be completed before the first emissions reductions deadline in 2022, seven years away. Yet the good news is that while many states oppose the EPA’s actions, there are also eighteen states, many of which are experiencing the “lasting and irreversible” harms of climate change first hand, and several energy industry groups that supported the CCP stating, “Any stay that results in further delay in emissions reductions would compound the harms.” Unfortunately, this Supreme Court decision may have put the recently agreed upon Paris Accords in jeopardy.  Both China and India have stated that this decision has made it hard to believe that the United States will be able to keep up its end of the agreed upon accord, which may cause issues during the international movement to sign the accord this Earth day, April 22, 2016. Without complete US support, many nations may decide not to sign the accord, and cause this unprecedented climate agreement to fail. However, if the Supreme Court decides in favor of the EPA’s Clean Climate Plan, the United States will begin an extraordinary shift to clean energy, leading the rest of the world to a greener and cleaner future.