Experts React to Supreme Court Stay of Clean Power Plan

Business leaders, energy executives, legal scholars, health professionals and state government officials are speaking out in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, saying that they still intend to transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy despite the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to stay the rule’s implementation. 

While the Clean Power Plan is now on hold as the legal case progresses through the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, these speakers and organizations attest to the continuing momentum for strong action on climate.

Updated: February 16, 2016


Business

Keith Tuffley, Managing Partner & CEO, The B-Team 

  • "The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling against the Clean Power Plan is a setback, but it does not change the fact that we're in the midst of a dramatic and irreversible shift toward a clean energy economy. More and more American companies understand that fighting climate change is good business, and have called on their government to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Clean energy investments are growing rapidly, and attracted more than US$329 billion last year. Most of this expansion is overseas, predominantly in China.  The US must continue to invest for a future in which an advanced clean energy system becomes a competitive advantage and increases US energy independence. We are confident the court will ultimately rule to support a resilient, green future for the benefit of all Americans.”

We cannot afford to wait any longer for federal action to address carbon pollution and transition to clean energy. 

- Washington Governor Jay Inslee

We Mean Business

  • “The We Mean Business coalition regrets the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to temporarily stay the Clean Power Plan while the litigation proceeds. We strongly believe that the Clean Power Plan is on solid legal ground and will prevail based on the merits. Business and investors across the United States support the Clean Power Plan because is a core component of the U.S. climate commitment and would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by an average of 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. The economic benefits of the plan are clear. It will drive innovation, create new and better job opportunities and help grow the economy and increase the competitiveness of American businesses in the global marketplace.” 

Lisa Jacobson, President, Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE)

  • “The Council is disappointed over the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the Clean Power Plan.  The rule would build on what is already happening in the marketplace. It allows states to meet their emission reduction targets with a broad portfolio of affordable and reliable technologies, including an array of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy solutions... It is our hope that the stay will not delay states from moving forward with implementation planning.  The Clean Power Plan is an important rule and will contribute significantly to the US’s pledge as part of the Paris Agreement that was agreed to in December 2015.”

Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres

  • Ceres strongly disagrees with the Supreme Court's decision to stay the Clean Power Plan while litigation proceeds.  We are confident that the EPA will prevail on the merits. Backed by the 365-plus businesses and investors who support the Clean Power Plan and are backing their words with deeds, we believe the clean energy economy is inevitable and irreversible, both nationally and globally. We will continue work with the dozens of states that are wisely developing plans to diversify their energy portfolios — all while boosting their attractiveness to companies and employees who embrace clean energy solutions. We look forward to continuing to work with the Obama Administration on its overall Climate Action Plan to improve public health, promote clean energy investment and jobs nationwide. 

Energy

Dan Whitten, Vice President of Communications, Solar Energy Industries Association 

  • "We are disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision because, at least for now, it puts a stop to a rule that addresses our nation’s and the world’s most pressing environmental threat. That said, we are confident that utilities and many states will move forward with plans for a clean energy future and that solar will continue to play a strong and growing role in America's electricity mix."

This is an unexpected speedbump for the US administration but it does not change the growing global momentum to shift away from fossil fuels, which was concretised in the Paris Agreement.

- Bas Eickhout, Member of the European Parliament 

Jennifer Kefer, Executive Director, Alliance for Industrial Efficiency

  • “The Clean Power Plan provides valuable incentives to the industrial sector to invest in energy efficiency, lowering their emissions, while saving U.S. manufacturers money on their electricity bills and making them more competitive and resilient. The rule provides market certainty to developers that they are making wise financial decisions as they invest in improving the efficiency of their energy supplies. These rules hold significant promise for CHP and waste heat to power deployment, with one recent analysis finding that the Clean Power Plan could result in nearly 20 gigawatts of new projects – the equivalent of 40 conventional power plants. While the Supreme Court has delayed implementation, we are hopeful that states will continue to work with the manufacturing sector to encourage these common-sense clean-energy solutions, which are good for both the economy and the environment.”

Karen Glitman, Director, Policy and Public Affairs, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation

  • “This stay will not impede progress towards a clean and just energy future. The market has already spoken and coal is not economically viable. This was true before the Clean Power Plan and continues to be true. VEICs mandate hasn’t changed in 30 years – to reduce the environmental, economic and social costs of energy use. This work continues and there is no time to waste.”

Legal

Michael Burger, Executive Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School 

  • "This is an unprecedented action by the Supreme Court. Given the highly politicized nature of the case -- on one side a coalition of (mostly) Republican-led states, the coal industry and other energy sector organizations, and on the other side the Obama administration, a coalition of Democrat-led states and local governments, and environmental organizations -- it is unfortunate that the Court would make such an unusual move without offering the public any explanation whatsoever. We are left to guess at whether the Court is skeptical of the Clean Power Plan, or if it is more simply sympathetic to the states' claims of harm." -

Michael B. Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School

  • “It is highly unusual for the Supreme Court to stay a regulation before the Court of Appeals has ruled on it, especially if so far the regulation is only requiring paperwork and not actual compliance.” 

Health

Gary Cohen, President and Co-Founder, Health Care Without Harm 

  • “The Supreme Court is undermining a global consensus that climate change is a public health emergency. As part of the international community, the United States has a responsibility to rein in the carbon pollution coming out of America’s power plants.”

Catherine Thomasson, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility

  • “As a group of health care professionals and concerned citizens, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is sorely disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision to place a stay on the Clean Power Plan.  PSR calls on the states to continue developing their implementation plans so they can help protect the health of Americans from the threats to health and survival posed by climate change. The Clean Power Plan sets achievable, state-specific targets for carbon reduction, and it gives the states time and flexibility to meet those goals. That’s why PSR and more than two-thirds of Americans support the Clean Power Plan.  Furthermore, the Plan is anticipated to produce $54 billion in health and climate benefits.  We urge all the states to proceed with planning to implement the Clean Power Plan as smart policy for our health, our economy, and our future.”

State Organizations

John Quigley, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

  • “Looking at the future of energy in this country, we know low-price natural gas is going to be around for a long time. We know that the price of renewable energy is coming down in many states. It’s clear that renewables are the future. What the Clean Power Plan is calling for is really good business.”

Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition

  • “While the U.S. Supreme Court may have temporarily delayed implementation, we believe the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill are the best ways to create thousands of jobs, cut electric bills and give Illinois clean air.

    “We encourage Governor Rauner and the Illinois EPA to begin a stakeholder process that keeps Illinois from falling further behind other states in growing a strong clean energy economy once the court upholds the Clean Power Plan.”

Elected Officials

Jerry Brown, Governor of California

  • "As the world gets hotter and closer to irreversible climate change, these justices appear tone-deaf as they fiddle with procedural niceties. This arbitrary roadblock does incalculable damage and undermines America's climate leadership. But make no mistake, this won't stop California from continuing to do its part under the Clean Power Plan."

Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia

  • "Over the last several months my administration has been working with a diverse group of Virginia stakeholders that includes members of the environmental, business, and energy communities to develop a strong, viable path forward to comply with the Clean Power Plan. As this court case moves forward, we will stay on course and continue to develop the elements for a Virginia plan to reduce carbon emissions and stimulate our clean energy economy."

Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington

  • “Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Clean Power Plan is very troubling, surprising, and disappointing. And it inexplicably breaks with past rulings in which the high court has called for federal rules to limit the carbon pollution that is driving climate change.

    “We cannot afford to wait any longer for federal action to address carbon pollution and transition to clean energy. Here in Washington state we are unfortunately already seeing the harmful impacts of climate change, and we will continue to take steps that reduce carbon and to lead the nation in clean energy. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan remains a crucial tool to ensure that every state must do its part, and to empower them to do so.

    “This ruling comes at a time when the international momentum for action on climate change, expressed most forcefully by December’s global agreement in Paris, is increasingly irreversible. U.S. leadership has been vital to gaining meaningful commitments from the world’s largest economies, and the Clean Power Plan is central to that leadership. We are confident that the sound legal and policy foundations of this rule will ultimately be upheld, and that the United States will continue its progress in building a clean energy future.”

Bas Eickhout, Member of the European Parliament (Greens/EFA)

  • "This is an unexpected speedbump for the US administration but it does not change the growing global momentum to shift away from fossil fuels, which was concretised in the Paris Agreement. The US administration played an important role in realising the Paris deal and it is clear they will want to continue with their implementation of the clean energy plan. In the entire society money is divested from fossil fuels and the only resistance that is left is through legal actions. They are clutching the last straw and we have good hope that the court ruling in June will be favourable to actions of the Obama administration to tackle climate change. Europe's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and shift to sustainable energy will continue and will hopefully provide encouragement to the sceptical elements in the US."

Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota

  • “While the Court’s temporary stay is disappointing, it does nothing to diminish our resolve in Minnesota to keep moving forward on clean energy initiatives, including the development of our state’s Clean Power Plan. President Obama’s strong leadership, the nation-leading initiatives of some of our state’s utilities, and my administration's commitment will assure our state’s continued progress. 

    "We shouldn't need a federal edict to understand how vital it is that we keep doing everything in our collective powers to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and advance Minnesota’s clean energy economy.”


Environment

Liz Gallagher, Programme Leader, E3G 

  • “In reality, the decision by the Supreme Court does not impact the US emissions reductions yet.  But, politically it does remind us that there are dark forces still within the US political system. The decision will be interpreted by those already looking to sabotage Paris that we cannot deliver the Agreement.  But the beauty of the Paris Agreement was its universality.   This is not just a US-China  government to government story now, it’s a global one where corporates, investors and cities and citizens all play a crucial role.  The Paris Agreement is resilient, and will withstand these bumps along the road”.

Michael Jacobs, Visiting Professor at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and Senior Adviser to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate 

  • “In recent times, the United States Administration has become a leader on climate action, launching innovative policies and conducting impressive diplomacy, including at the Paris Climate Summit last year when they helped to bring about a comprehensive global climate agreement. Continuing to roll out the Clean Power Plan is the best way the US can deliver in the commitments they made as part of the Paris Agreement. Doing so will mean the US continues being a leader, reaping the economic and social benefits of the clean energy transition.” 
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