In blow to climate action, Supreme Court pauses Clean Power Plan

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Ben Hellerstein

Former State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Following court decision, Massachusetts must continue to lead

Environment Massachusetts

Boston – The Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it will delay implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan – the centerpiece of President Obama’s plans to tackle climate change – while it hears lawsuits from polluters and their allies who want to kill the rule. However, the decision has no bearing on state-level plans to clean up the pollution that is heating our planet. Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts, issued this statement:

“While we’re confident that yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is only a temporary setback for clean air and a healthy planet, the ruling reinforces how important it is for Massachusetts to continue to lead on climate.

“Massachusetts’ leadership helped make the Clean Power Plan possible. By establishing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2005 – the nation’s first limit on global warming pollution from power plants – we demonstrated how to get the job done. At the same time, we showed that cleaning up pollution from power plants has widespread benefits – including cleaner air, more energy efficiency, and a rapidly growing clean energy economy.

“Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in no way prevents Massachusetts from moving forward with the process currently underway to review the success of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and improve its performance in cleaning up power plant pollution. Nor does it affect efforts to clean up pollution from transportation, industry or other sources.

“Massachusetts has pledged to protect our children and communities from the worst impacts of climate change. Under the Global Warming Solutions Act, we have committed to reduce Massachusetts’ global warming pollution by at least 80% by 2050.

“Now we need to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce more power plant pollution, faster – aligning the program with our overall climate goals. Our region should reduce power plant emissions to less than 40 million tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030 (at least 55 percent below today’s levels).

“The Supreme Court decision does not overturn the Clean Power Plan. Instead the ruling pauses the plan while a lower court considers briefs and arguments on an expedited schedule. The Supreme Court has already affirmed that carbon pollution is dangerous and upheld the EPA’s authority to limit carbon pollution from power plants under the Clean Air Act. We expect the Clean Power Plan to prevail in the courts.

“That said, there’s no reason to wait for the courts to rule on the Clean Power Plan before we move ahead. By advancing our own plans to reduce global warming pollution, we can show the way forward for the rest of the nation.”


Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen-supported advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open space.