On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of the Clean Power Plan based on applications filed by a broad coalition of states, the coal industry, the utility industry, and chambers of commerce. The parties filed the applications after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied similar motions.
This marks the first time that the Supreme Court has granted a stay request before a rule has been heard on its merits in lower courts. The stay will remain in place during proceedings in the D.C. Circuit and throughout any proceedings in the Supreme Court.
The stay is a major victory for the parties challenging the Clean Power Plan and has significant implications moving forward. First, with a stay now in place, states can wait for the outcome of the case before developing state plans to implement the Clean Power Plan. Even if the Rule survives litigation — which now appears more doubtful than ever — states should then be able to pick up where they left off in the planning process. Based on stays granted in other contexts, we expect the court would extend out the applicable deadlines, and States would then have more time to prepare their initial plans after litigation comes to an end.
Second, the entire Court — not only the Chief Justice — weighed in on the stay. Therefore, the grant demonstrates that at least five justices have significant concerns about the Clean Power Plan’s legality. It also confirms that the Supreme Court almost certainly will grant a petition for certiorari filed by the petitioners if the D.C. Circuit upholds the Rule.
The D.C. Circuit has established an expedited briefing schedule in the case with opening briefs due Friday, February 19 and final briefs due in mid-April. Oral argument has already been set for June 2. A decision is expected by early fall.
Copies of the Supreme Court’s orders on each of the stay applications are available here.
Troutman Sanders represents coal and utility petitioners in the litigation. For more information about the implications of the Supreme Court’s stay or the Clean Power Plan, please contact Peter Glaser, Margaret Campbell, Mack McGuffey, Angela Levin, or Justin Wong.