Monday, February 15, 2016

U.S. SUPREME COURT - Paris Climate Accord

Note that this article is before Justice Scalia' death.  Also, this is 'Greed Files' article because it's really about coal industry profits before the environment and health.

"Will a surprising Supreme Court move shake the Paris climate accord?" PBS NewsHour 2/10/2016


SUMMARY:  The Supreme Court temporarily blocked major regulations, designed by the EPA, to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.  The move, which has been called unprecedented, means that the Obama administration's rules can't go into effect until legal challenges are settled.  William Brangham learns more from Coral Davenport of The New York Times.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  In a surprise move late yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in to put the centerpiece of President Obama’s climate change agenda on hold, pending the outcome of judicial appeals in the lower courts.

William Brangham has that.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  In a move that’s been called unprecedented, the Supreme Court has temporarily blocked major environmental regulations that were designed to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The high court’s order means these regulations, which were put out by the Environmental Protection Agency, can’t go into effect until legal challenges against them are settled.  The coal industry and a consortium of states have sued to stop the rules, calling them — quote — “a power grab.”

To help us understand all this, we turn to Coral Davenport, who has been reporting the story for The New York Times.

So, Coral, before we get to what the court ordered, let’s talk a little bit about these regulations.  These are not some arcane set of rules.  These seem pretty fundamental to the President’s environmental agenda.

CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times:  Yes, the regulation that was put on hold is really at the heart of President Obama’s climate change agenda.

In his second term, President Obama really wanted to build a legacy around addressing climate change.  He just got back less than two months ago from a meeting in Paris where the first ever universal global accord on climate change was signed.

One of the reasons or one of the cornerstones for the success of that accord was the fact that the U.S. had acted on this specific policy.  So this is — as you say, this is not some small, arcane policy.  This was set to be sort of the cornerstone of what President Obama hoped would be the first major climate action by the United States.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  The coal industry and 20-something states have been suing to try to block these rules.  What has been their argument against them?

CORAL DAVENPORT:  Their reason to block the rules is, if the rules were to go into effect, they would target, as you say, emissions from coal-fired power plants, and in the long run probably shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

They would freeze construction of future coal-fired power plants and almost certainly freeze the domestic market for U.S. coal.  So the coal industry and states where coal mining or coal-fired power plants are a big part of the company have been fighting tooth and nail against this rule from the very beginning.

Their legal argument is that rule is so broad, so creative that it’s a sort of overinterpretation of the existing law of the Clean Air Act, that it violates the Constitution.  These are their legal arguments against the rule.

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