Bucknell Institute for Public Policy (BIPP): SCOTUS halts climate change action

Zachary Krivine, Contributing Writer

Feb. 9 was a major blow to President Barack Obama and his efforts to combat climate change when the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) placed a hold on his administration’s Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan. Obama has taken the lead on a number of steps designed to curb climate change–for example, he has increased the federal mandated fuel economies of cars to be at least 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025–but his proposed plan is by far his most comprehensive and ambitious.

The goal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) is simple. Power plants represent a third of all U.S. carbon emissions, and the CPP requires that power plants cut emissions by 32 percent by 2030. If the law were to go into effect, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would determine the emission reduction targets for states, and states can go about cutting emissions in different ways. For example, individual states could cut emissions by investing in cleaner forms of energy, such as wind, natural gas, or solar, or they could form multi-state regional compacts to find the lowest-cost option.

Although the CPP has immense potential to slash carbon dioxide emissions, it is not without its critics. Their argument is twofold. First, the plan would be costly. A study conducted by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed that following the plan’s implantation, it would cost the economy almost $40 billion in GDP, forcing companies to alter their existing infrastructure to be more energy efficient while losing profit in the short term. Furthermore, some see the move as a federal overreach, and following a repeated pattern of the president’s ignorance of the importance of fossil fuels, such as coal, to our economy. Since the unveiling of the CPP on Aug. 3, 29 states have filed suit.

This criticism may be in vain for many reasons. For one, the CPP is not yet dead. The litigation concerning the plan was being reviewed by circuit courts when the Supreme Court intervened to block the CPP itself, a move that many did not expect. Secondly, certain states will likely go ahead with climate reform regardless of a SCOTUS or circuit court ruling. The plan is being held up for only federal implications.

Regardless of how you feel about the CPP, there is little room for doubting climate change. It seems every day that more and more research is published supporting the notion of anthropogenic climate change and its coming (or already existing) effects on our lives.

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