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Court Action Could Slow Missouri's Clean-Energy Progress

As the EPA's Clean Power Plan is being challenged in court, groups that support the plan are concerned the delay will slow momentum for cleaner energy options for Missouri. (click/morguefile)
As the EPA's Clean Power Plan is being challenged in court, groups that support the plan are concerned the delay will slow momentum for cleaner energy options for Missouri. (click/morguefile)
February 12, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The U.S. Supreme Court this week ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan can't move forward pending other appeals-court decisions. More than 20 states, including Missouri, are challenging the plan in court, which would regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

According to Missouri Sierra Club member John Kissel, not adopting the Clean Power Plan could have detrimental effects on the state's transition to cleaner energy sources.

"A lot of states have significant momentum in cleaning up their energy portfolio," he said. "Even in Missouri, there have been some preliminary efforts made. And so the concern is that things would slow down, and the climate change crisis is not going to slow down. So, our efforts to deal with it need to be timely."

Kissel, a retired physician, noted that the Supreme Court already ruled last year that the EPA can set regulations like those in the Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions. Kissel said he thinks the current challenge is merely a stall tactic by those who benefit from fossil-fuel energy sources.

Despite the delay, said Heather Zichal, who served as deputy assistant for Energy and Climate Change in the Obama administration, many states are moving ahead with plans to cut carbon emissions. However, she cautioned that the Clean Power Plan is becoming a political pawn in an election year.

"Underlying all of the political theater is a lot of really important action that's being taken at the state level, that's allowing states to invest in a clean-energy economy," she said. "States are in a position to be true leaders, despite dysfunction of Washington around climate policy."

Kissel said nearly three-quarters of Americans support climate action and policies such as the Clean Power Plan, while those who oppose it typically have a financial interest in the coal business.

"We're teetering on the brink as it is, and to slow things down is just going to make it much more difficult for us," he said. "There's overwhelming support for the Clean Power Plan across the country, and it's support among people regardless of their political affiliation."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear the challenge, and has agreed to do so on an expedited schedule, perhaps ruling yet this year.

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - MO