A divided U.S. Supreme Court blocked President Barack Obama’s sweeping plan to cut emissions from power plants, putting on hold his most ambitious effort to combat climate change.
The 5-4 order Tuesday halts the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan until at least the final months of Obama’s presidency — and casts doubt on its ultimate fate before the nation’s highest court by suggesting concern among a majority of the justices.
Utilities, coal miners and more than two dozen states say the agency had overstepped its authority and intruded on states’ rights.
The court action blocking implementation until an appeals court can rule “confirms that the legal justification for the Clean Power Plan should be examined by the courts before scarce state and private resources are used to develop state plans,” said Melissa McHenry, a spokeswoman for American Electric Power Co., one of the biggest coal users among U.S. utilities.
The delay is a blow to Obama’s environmental agenda, highlighting the prospect that his signature program for combating climate change could be in legal jeopardy. It also risks undermining the U.S. commitment to pare greenhouse gas emissions as part of an international accord reached in Paris last December.
The White House said it disagreed with the court’s action and expressed confidence it would prevail in the long run.
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