Last year President Obama enacted sweeping regulations to reduce the U.S.’s dependence on fossil fuels and to move the country to clean energy sources like solar power. The plan, called the Clean Power Plan, faced opposition from conservative governors and from the coal industry, among others, which filed a suit against implementing the plan. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a stay against implementation and sent the case back to an appeals court.
The Supreme Court ruled on a margin of 5-4 with the conservative justices ruling in favor of the stay. Many were surprised by the move. For instance, The Washington Post editorial board wrote an opinion piece in which they stated: “Technically, the law’s challengers needed to show ‘a likelihood of success on the merits’ to warrant a stay. They did not convince a federal appeals court that they deserved one. But in a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court took the extraordinary step of overruling that call.”
The delay of the Clean Power Plan is not likely to upend the solar industry, however. The extension of the Investment Tax Credit last year was most imperative to maintaining growth in the solar industry and the recent Supreme Court ruling won’t effect that. Since the credit helps solar panels and equipment cost less, making them competitive with other energy sources—and more attractive to homeowners and utilities.
Still, the move is criticized by the solar industry, cities and environmentalists who ultimately believe it will be implemented. For instance, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Vice President of Communications Dan Whitten stated, ”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."
It’s not just environmentalists and clean energy advocates that were surprised and disappointed by the decision. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, expressed disappointment with the decision. “The U.S. Conference of Mayors is disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision to stay the implementation of EPA's Clean Power Plan. This is a surprising ruling given the fact that the court earlier ruled that greenhouse gas emissions are considered an air pollutant and therefore subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act,” wrote Tom Cochran in a statement about the decision. “More importantly, this is disappointing to the thousands of cities that are already doing their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and were looking to the utilities to become partners in the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Most remain optimistic that the decision will not mean the Clean Power Plan is abandoned. “We are confident the courts will ultimately uphold the Clean Power Plan on its merits. The electricity sector has embarked on an unstoppable shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fueled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future, and the stay cannot reverse that trend. Nor can it dampen the overwhelming public support for action on climate change and clean energy,” said David Doniger, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.Tweet