EPA Compliance Deadlines Suspended During Legal Challenge

The Supreme Court put the brakes on the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan while it is pending legal challenges from 27 states.

This is the first time the Supreme Court has granted a stay on a federal regulation while it is still undergoing lower court review.

Though an explanation for the stay was not provided, the fact that it was granted indicates the Court may have found a risk of incurring “irreparable harm,” which is not surprising. In Louisiana, for example, there are about 1 million lower and middle-income families who spend comparable amounts of their budget on electricity, food, healthcare and housing.

The Clean Power Plan – which would force states to become more dependent on expensive, renewable power sources – could cause electricity prices to increase around 15 percent a year on average, and as much as 22 percent on peak years.

Such a cost increase risks putting many Louisianans in tough financial situations, and for almost no gain. According to an EPA model, at best, the Clean Power Plan would have a negligible effect on the climate.

Since all compliance deadlines are suspended under the stay, state leaders have an opportunity to protect Louisianans from the burdens of the Clean Power Plan by taking measures to ensure unnecessary implementation work is stopped:

  • Governor John Bel Edwards could issue an executive order that would prevent the expenditure of state funds on development of a state implantation plan.
  • Attorney General Jeff Landry could issue an advisory opinion stating the utilization of taxpayer dollars for Clean Power Plan compliance efforts lacks legal standing.
  • The Legislature could pass legislation that would prohibit the State Department of Environmental Quality from working on a state compliance plan.

A ruling is not expected before mid-2017, so it would appear to be pointless for Louisiana to invest time and resources on the issue in the interim.