White House Surprised by U.S. Supreme Court Stay of Carbon Rule

resized supreme court ii

Senior Obama administration officials said late Tuesday they strongly disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to stay the Environmental Protection Agency's greenhouse gas emissions standards for power plants while litigation continues, but they expressed confidence the Clean Power Plan's legality ultimately would be upheld.

The court ordered Tuesday that the Clean Power Plan, President Barack Obama's signature domestic action on climate change, be halted until the case can be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and through any subsequent Supreme Court consideration.

“This is a temporary, procedural determination that does nothing to affect, first, our confidence in the legal soundness of the rule,” a senior administration official told reporters on a telephone news conference. “We also remain confident and committed to the climate targets we put forward in the international space.”

The Supreme Court's decision was surprising, extraordinary and unprecedented under the Clean Air Act, a different administration official said. Despite the setback, there are multiple examples historically of environmental regulations being stayed and courts ultimately upholding them, the official said.

As litigation proceeds through the D.C. Circuit, the EPA has indicated it will continue to work with states. The D.C. Circuit has scheduled argument in lawsuits brought by 27 states and several utility industry groups opposed to the rule for June 2, with the possibility for additional argument June 3.