Supreme Court votes narrowly to block Obama's plan to cut greenhouse gases

Steam rises from the stakes of the coal-fired Jim Bridger Power Plant outside Point of the Rocks, Wyoming. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama by blocking federal regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, the centrepiece of his administration's strategy to combat climate change.Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama's sweeping plan to cut greenhouse gases from his nation to combat climate change has suffered a blow, courtesy of the Supreme Court.

In a close 5-4 vote, America's highest court temporarily blocked the administration's Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, just months before Obama steps down from the White House.

The Supreme Court essentially favoured 29 states and players from the energy industry who filed a lawsuit accusing Obama's administration of overstepping its authority and intruding into the rights of individual states to determine their policies on greenhouse gases.

Melissa McHenry, a spokeswoman for American Electric Power Co., one of the biggest coal users among U.S. utilities, said the Supreme Court's stay order on Obama's clean-power plan proves that the case her firm filed has merit.

"[The court order] confirms that the legal justification for the Clean Power Plan should be examined by the courts before scarce state and private resources are used to develop state plans," McHenry said, as quoted by Bloomberg News.

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As expected, the White House was not pleased with the high court's order. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement that the Obama administration "disagrees" with the Supreme Court's action.

"The Clean Power Plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, gives states the time and flexibility they need to develop tailored, cost-effective plans to reduce their emissions, and will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country, and major progress in our efforts to confront the risks posed by climate change," Earnest said as quoted by CNN.

"We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits," the White House official added.

Legal experts, such as Professor Bruce Huber from the Notre Dame Law school, however, interpreted the Supreme Court's order as an indication that top magistrates are concerned about some aspects of the plan.

"This is an exceedingly uncommon situation for the court to step in, and it jeopardises the plan all together from going into effect while President Obama remains in office. The Supreme Court's order signals serious misgivings among some of the justices about the legality of the plan," Huber told CNN.

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