Supreme Court-minIn a significant victory for the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid, the U.S. Supreme Court granted state and industry requests to stay enforcement of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Ozone Transport rule. This is the first major court ruling on EPA’s suite of rules designed to prematurely retire coal plants.

While pursuing the case in the D.C. Circuit Court, last October, the National Mining Association (NMA) and others filed an emergency application for immediate stay of EPA’s final rule pending the outcome of the court case. Securing a stay in cases like this is essential because it hits the “pause” button on the damaging imposition of a potentially illegal rule, while the courts examine the issue, the NMA explained. Last week’s decision from the Supreme Court blocks the implementation of this rule – one that would have a devastating impact on the coal fleet and the reliability of our power supply.

With the stay in place, the case will continue in the D.C. Circuit Court. The Supreme Court majority found in its granting of the stay that industry and the states are likely to win on the merits of the case.

“We’re pleased that the Supreme Court recognized the immediate harm to industry and consumers posed by this reckless rule,” said Rich Nolan, president and CEO, NMA. “No agency is permitted to operate outside of the clear bounds of the law and today, once again, the Supreme Court reminded the EPA of that fact.”

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) also applauded the decision, saying implementation of the rule would have led to the early curtailment or retirement of 62 coal generating units as soon as 2026. The collective loss of the 32 gigawatts of generating capacity “would further jeopardize the reliability of an already stressed electric grid.”

“This rule creates major threats to the reliability of the electric grid and will saddle Americans with higher energy bills while accelerating the retirement of always available generating resources,” said Jim Matheson, CEO, NRECA. “EPA’s approach to regulating the electric sector stretches well beyond the agency’s authority.”

The NMA described this rule as one of the lynchpins of EPA’s suite of rules designed to close the coal fleet nearly overnight. Had the Ozone Transport rule been implemented, the association said it would have had immediate and devastating consequences for reliability.