Coal Country Reacts To Supreme Court Stay On Obama Clean Power Plan

Feb 10, 2016
Originally published on February 11, 2016 4:34 pm
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Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

We're going to get some reaction now to the move by the U.S. Supreme Court to put the Obama's administration's Clean Power Plan on hold. The plan targets emissions from power plants. It would require coal-reliant states like Wyoming and North Dakota to make substantial cuts. Those two states are among 27 states that are suing to have the plan overturned. Here's Wyoming Public Radio's Stephanie Joyce.

STEPHANIE JOYCE, BYLINE: It was a longshot to ask the Supreme Court for a stay of the Clean Power Plan while legal challenges to it are heard. Even those asking for it knew that.

WAYNE STENEHJEM: Getting an injunction or a stay of this kind is always a very difficult prospect.

JOYCE: That's North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. So when he learned about the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision putting the rule on hold, he was delighted.

STENEHJEM: The first person I called was my wife (laughter). You know, just whenever positive exciting things happen, that's the first person I can think of to call.

JOYCE: And the stay is a very exciting development for coal country. Travis Deti is the assistant director of the Wyoming Mining Association. He got the news from an alert on his phone.

TRAVIS DETI: Frankly, I was surprised. It came very quick and almost out of the blue. And to me, that signals that the court recognizes that there are some significant legal issues with the EPA's plan.

JOYCE: That's how many policymakers in coal states are choosing to interpret the stay - that they at least have a chance of getting the Clean Power Plan overturned even though the one-page order didn't make any kind of judgment about the merits of the case. That optimism worries Connie Wilbert with the Wyoming chapter of the Sierra Club.

CONNIE WILBERT: I guess disappointed is the best way to describe my reaction.

JOYCE: Wilbert is concerned policymakers will see the injunction as an excuse not to invest in alternative energy and as a reason to keep ignoring something she views as necessary and inevitable - moving the country away from coal.

WILBERT: I believe that it will provide an opportunity for some of our policymakers here in Wyoming to continue to stall.

JOYCE: Most states, including Wyoming and North Dakota, were already working to comply with the Clean Power Plan before the injunction. Montana has put that work on hold because of the stay. The D.C. Circuit Court will hear challenges to the plan at the beginning of June. For NPR News, I'm Stephanie Joyce.

MCEVERS: That story came to us from Inside Energy, a public media collaboration focusing on America's energy issues. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.