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Supreme Court Stays Clean Power Plan

On February 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision staying implementation of the Clean Power Plan until the D.C. Circuit rules on challenges to the Plan. The Court left open the possibility that it would review the D.C. Circuit’s ultimate decision.

The decision delays President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The Clean Power Plan is its key climate change rule. It requires states and utilities to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by generating less electricity from coal, and more from lower carbon-emitting sources like natural gas, or zero-carbon sources like solar and wind. The Plan has an ambitious goal: to reduce CO2 emissions 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Some relevant background: On January 21, 2016, the D.C. Circuit refused to stay the Clean Power Plan while litigation is pending before it. Opponents of the rule, including 29 states and state agencies and several industry and trade groups, appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

The stay will be in place at least until the D.C. Circuit rules on the pending challenges, likely late this year. Briefing deadlines are in April, and oral argument is scheduled in early June. The Supreme Court’s stay order will also remain in effect if the Court decides to review the D.C. Circuit’s decision, which it is expected to do, regardless of the outcome.

What are the implications of the stay? In the short term, the September 6, 2016 deadline for states to either submit their state plans or request a two-year extension will be postponed.

The Supreme Court’s action was unusual. The 5-4 vote suggests that the Court was persuaded that the significant challenges to the rule and the economic consequences of implementing it outweighed EPA’s interests in addressing climate change this year. 

© 2019 Schiff Hardin LLP

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About this Author

Jane E Montgomery, Schiff Hardin Law firm
Partner

Jane E. Montgomery concentrates her practice in a variety of matters at the local, state and federal levels. Ms. Montgomery regularly: Counsels many companies with day-to-day compliance issues, including air permitting, NSPS, MACT, and solid and hazardous waste issues. In her work, she often encounters difficult elemental mercury, manufactured gas plant, and PCB issues, and she recently has focused on Reform New Source Review (NSR) compliance for utilities. Counsels clients with respect to climate change issues. Such work has included work on carbon sequestration issues, greenhouse gas...

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Amy Antoniolli, environmental attorney, Schiff Hardin, permit appeals legal counsel, environment regulations lawyer, Illinois Pollution Control law
Staff Attorney

Amy Antoniolli concentrates her practice on environmental matters, advising clients on compliance with relevant laws and regulations and representing them in permit appeals, requests for relief from regulations and in rulemakings.

Amy’s prior experience as Assistant Attorney for the Illinois Pollution Control Board and as Assistant Counsel to the Illinois House of Representatives informs her work at Schiff Hardin and regularly benefits her clients.

Having advised the Board Members of the Illinois Pollution Control Board on environmental statutory and regulatory interpretation, she is better able to advise her clients on compliance with the law in the multitude of environmental matters that come under the Board’s jurisdiction and control. Because Amy served as an Illinois Pollution Control Board Hearing Officer, she is better able to ensure her clients’ perspectives are heard— and favorably acted upon.

When her clients’ site-specific situation clearly falls outside the rules, Amy’s experience with the Illinois legislature, where she drafted legislation and advised representatives on proposed legislation, has aided her in crafting site-specific new rule proposals for her clients— rules that have been adopted and, more importantly, have allowed her clients to proceed beyond the costly standstill of regulatory non-compliance.

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