Reading tea leaves: Scalia’s death gives new life to Obama’s climate plan

The sulfer-coal-burning John E. Amos Power Plant in West Virginia. (credit: Cathy)

Four days before Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday, the 79-year-old justice and the court's four other conservatives blocked one of President Barack Obama's centerpiece packages—his climate change initiative requiring a 32-percent reduction in power plant emissions by 2030.

More than two dozen states and energy companies are suing to thwart the plan, claiming that Obama's carbon regulations announced in October are an abuse of power and will "unlawfully impose massive and irreparable harms upon the sovereign states, as well as irreversible changes in the energy markets." The Supreme Court's decision to block the plan from taking force ahead of June 2 oral arguments before a federal appeals court was viewed as an ultimate death blow of sorts to the plan. The 5-4 conservative majority sided with the states and essentially said that the regulations are shelved until the Supreme Court lifts its stay.

Coal-burning plants generate about a third of the nation's power and are the hardest hit by Obama's regulations. West Virginia and Kentucky, two of the states that rely heavily on coal for power and jobs, initiated the legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan. Utilities are the nation's largest source of carbon emissions.

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