Twenty-five states (and four state agencies) are petitioning the Supreme Court to halt the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Clean Power Plan, after the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declined to stay the rule last week. The states described the Clean Power Plan “as the most far reaching and burdensome rule EPA has ever forced onto the states.”

Last week’s federal appeals court order was short on specifics as to why a stay was declined, simply saying that the states suing did not demonstrate the high legal burden for the court to block the EPA’s actions while litigation is pending.

The regulation has nothing to do with regulating pollutants.

The Clean Power Plan, which was finalized in Oct. 2015, is one of a set of EPA regulations targeting carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector. The regulation has nothing to do with regulating pollutants that have adverse impacts on human health and the environment; instead, it focuses strictly on attempting to combat global warming. The plan requires most states to meet individual carbon dioxide emissions reduction goals for existing power plants by 2022 and again in 2030.

It is impossible to know the exact impacts of the rule, given that states will have to develop their own approaches to meet their individual mandates from the EPA. Regardless of the court’s decision, analysis by the Heritage Foundation has found that the Clean Power Plan and other burdensome climate regulations would have significant harm, projecting:

  • An average employment shortfall of nearly 300,000 jobs, with a peak employment shortfall of more than 1 million jobs
  • 500,000 jobs lost in manufacturing, and more than 45 percent of coal-mining jobs
  • Aggregate GDP loss of more than $2.5 trillion
  • Lost income of more than $7,000 per person

Even the government’s Energy Information Administration has modeled negative economic impacts of the Clean Power Plan—along with many others, who have expressed similar concerns.

In addition to a majority of states challenging the Clean Power Plan in court, dozens of groups across the spectrum have also filed suit against the Clean Power Plan—the American Wood Council, Brick Industry Association, Federation of Independent Businesses, American Iron and Steel Institute, and National Oilseed Processors Association, to name a few.

Lawsuits have also come from the groups that keep the lights on—American Public Power Association (representing public utilities serving 48 million people) and the Utility Air Regulatory Group. Collectively, they represent millions of Americans.

Regardless of the final decision in the courts, Congress should act.

A group of unelected bureaucrats in the EPA are attempting to completely re-engineer the nation’s electricity source based on one criterion—carbon dioxide emissions—rather than looking at safety, affordability, reliability, or other considerations.

Though it’s easily taken for granted, affordable, reliable electricity is invaluable to Americans’ jobs, homes, and well-being. Such an impactful decision at the very least belongs with the peoples’ representatives in Congress.