When Supreme Court justices ruled to freeze the Obama administration’s climate rule earlier this month, many viewed it as a sign that it would ultimately be rejected by the high court (Greenwire, Feb. 9). But with the possibility now that the court could split 4-4 on the case — upholding a lower court’s opinion — all eyes are on what’s happening in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
As President Obama contemplates the monumental political task of replacing the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, some analysts have suggested that he nominate a member of the Senate to the high court — on the theory that it will be hard for senators to reject one of their own. But that argument only goes so far — especially in a closely divided Senate in an election year, especially with Republicans holding 31 of the nation’s 50 governorships and especially with ideological control of the court hanging in the balance.
How far to the center President Obama should lean when choosing a Supreme Court nominee remains an open question, with Senate Republican leaders still saying any pick would be dead on arrival. Without naming names, Democrats who sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee have hinted that a candidate who has already been through the rigorous confirmation process may be more likely to move forward on the merits.
As U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan weathers legal turmoil, at least one state is proceeding full steam ahead. California’s Air Resources Board released a white paper yesterday exploring ways to mesh the state’s existing climate change regulations with those envisioned under the federal rule for existing power plants.
U.S. EPA is exploring new territory when it comes to the Supreme Court’s decision to freeze the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the Obama’a administration’s climate agenda, several former agency officials said this week. “Stays are quite unusual,” said Robert Sussman, who held positions in EPA during both the Obama and Clinton administrations. “I don’t think there are clear guideposts.”
“If Scalia’s seat remains vacant when the Clean Power Plan reaches the high court, a 4-4 vote would result in an automatic affirmance of the D.C. Circuit’s decision on the rule,” says Jack Lienke, an attorney with the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, by email. “We can’t know what the D.C. Circuit will decide, but supporters of the Clean Power Plan are optimistic — both because the D.C. Circuit panel, unlike the Supreme Court, denied motions to stay the rule and because the three-judge panel includes two Democratic appointees.”
The U.K. wind energy industry received a boost this week with the announcement of the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, to be built off the northeast coast. Dong Energy said its multi-billion pound Hornsea project, which is expected to power as many as 1 million homes in the region when complete, will occupy more than 400 square kilometers, situated about 120km off the Yorkshire coast.
No matter what happens to the Clean Power Plan after the Supreme Court last week paused its implementation, the United States will sign later this year the climate change mitigation agreement reached in Paris in December, the country’s top climate envoy said yesterday.
Gov. Jerry Brown does not mention global warming in the outline of the energy accord with governors of 16 other states. California Gov. Jerry Brown may have found a way to get some of his Republican counterparts to sign on to the clean energy revolution — drop all mention of climate change. Brown and a bipartisan group of 16 other governors announced an agreement Tuesday to increase renewable power, integrate electricity grids across state lines and boost the number of cars running on alternatives fuels.
How are state air agencies proceeding with planning following last week’s Supreme Court stay of the Clean Power Plan? During today’s OnPoint, Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, explains how her state plans to not only stay the course with its compliance planning, but also stay on the timeline prescribed by U.S. EPA in its rule. Nichols also discusses California’s plans to work with other states on compliance.