Pause on Clean Power Plan doesn’t change the realities of its benefits


A Supreme Court decision to pause or “stay” the immediate implementation of the Clean Power Plan may serve as a speed bump for the first ever federal limits on carbon pollution from coal power plants, but it won’t change the health and economic benefits of the plan. Wednesday’s decision means the Clean Power Plan is to be delayed until at least June, when the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit considers briefs and arguments against the plan submitted by a group of coal-friendly states, utilities and other interests.  Although the Clean Power Plan is being challenged, the White House has been quick to dismiss fears that it will impact its Paris Agreement contribution. Meanwhile, the unwavering momentum to transition away from coal continues to grow in the US, even among communities living in the states challenging the Supreme Court rule.



Key Points


  • Most states are eager to tap into the multiple benefits of the low carbon transition. Over two-thirds of Americans support the Clean Power Plan and want climate action to be prioritized, while 61 per cent of people living in the states suing to stop the plan are actually in favor of it. Moving the US to a safer, healthier economy is smart policy, as the Clean Power Plan would allow the country to tap into the $54 billion in potential health and climate benefits.
  • Around the world, smart money is moving away from coal and cashing in on renewables. In the US alone, major business and investment leaders are lending their support to the Clean Power Plan, and renewable jobs are booming, with those in the solar industry growing 12 times faster than jobs in the overall economy since 2014. Outside the country, from China to the EU, major economies are also tapping into the benefits of renewables.
  • The Clean Power Plan is the first step to the US meeting its Paris pledge, while reaping the benefits. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), if the world doubled its current market share of renewable energy to 36 per cent by 2030 – which the Clean Power Plan helps to do – global GDP would see a boost of $1.3 trillion. This would put the “Paris climate goals within reach,” while simultaneously strengthening the economy.



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  • “Today’s court decision is unfortunate but does not reflect a decision on the merits. The D.C. Circuit court will carry out a careful and expeditious review of the merits over the next few months. The Clean Power Plan has a firm anchor in our nation’s clean air laws and a strong scientific record, and we look forward to presenting our case on the merits in the courts,” said Vickie Patton, general counsel for Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to the case. “EDF believes the merits phase of the case can be argued, and decided, quickly – while Americans in red and blue states alike work together to protect our families and communities from the clear and present danger of climate change.” – Sam Adams, Director, U.S. Climate Initiative
  • “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.” – David Doniger, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council
  • “We are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision today to delay the job-creating, life-saving Clean Power Plan. However, the Court’s decision does not overturn the historic policy or decide its legal merits. This is a pause, and we are confident the Clean Power Plan and all of its benefits ultimately will be implemented across the nation. In fact, the Clean Power Plan follows trends that are already occurring in the electric sector and we are already dramatically reducing carbon pollution as we transition to clean, renewable energy. Large majorities of Americans support those efforts and the Clean Power Plan.” – Joanne Spalding, the Sierra Club’s Chief Climate Counsel
  • “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.” – 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



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