The coal industry is breathing easier after a surprise decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the court voted to halt implementation of President Obama’s plan to address climate change until legal challenges to the regulations are resolved.
The Clean Power Plan would require states to lower carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production. Coal-producing West Virginia is one of 29 states and state agencies challenging Obama’s plan.
“This is a monumental victory for West Virginia, the country and the rule of law,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told reporters after the court’s decision. “But most importantly, this Supreme Court decision is a win for coal miners and their families.”
Coal production has been on the decline in recent years—in part because of new regulations and a glut of cheap natural gas. That has led to a loss of mining jobs in coal states like West Virginia.
“The critical reason we asked for a stay is because harm was happening right now here in West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “We believe there is a very real likelihood of success on the merits. And we know that five justices agree with that.”
The court was divided 5-to-4 on the temporary freeze of the Clean Power Plan. Pennsylvania has been among the states working to implement the plan instead of fighting it. The Obama administration said it will continue to move forward with efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third by 2030.