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Georgia’s reaction muted on delay of Obama’s climate change agenda

Coal fired power plants

Georgia Power's Scherer Plant was among the company's coat-fired plants that produced approximately, "64 percent of the state's electricity with coal mined in other states." Credit: georgiaencyclopedia.org

By David Pendered

Georgia is among the 25 states that prevailed in their effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court delay the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda.

Coal fired power plants

Georgia Power’s Scherer Plant was among the company’s coat-fired plants that produced approximately, “64 percent of the state’s electricity with coal mined in other states.” Credit: georgiaencyclopedia.org/W.A. Bridges/Atlanta History Center

The court issued a 5-4 decision that temporarily prohibits the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from implementing a program intended to rein in coal power plants. The program is part of the administration’s efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The ruling is significant in Georgia. The state has nine coal power plants, according to a report by GreenLaw, a non-profit law firm active in the environmental arena.

A story on wsj.com characterized the court’s decision as an, “early and potentially significant blow to a rule that is the cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s efforts to slow climate change.”

The decision delays implementation of the EPA program until a lower court can rule on challenges to EPA’s plan. Those cases are to be considered this summer. Further filings in the Supreme Court are expected after a U.S. Appeals Court in Washington issues its ruling.

Georgia Attorney General Sam OIens’ office issued the following statement after the court released its decision Tuesday. The release is titled, “U.S. Supreme Court Halts EPA’s Unlawful Power Plan,” and it reads in full:

  • “Attorney General Sam Olens offered the following statement regarding today’s Supreme Court decision blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing its illegal and unprecedented Power Plan until the court challenge concludes.
  • “This is a victory against an out of control Environmental Protection Agency. We will continue to fight this executive overreach which will put Americans out of work and drive up the cost of electricity for consumers.”
  • “25 States challenged the EPA’s power plan on Oct. 23, 2015, the day it was published. The states argue the EPA exceeded its authority by double regulating coal-fired power plants and forcing states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation among other reasons.
  • Sam Olens

    Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens

    “Those joining Georgia in seeking a stay Jan. 26 with the Supreme Court were Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, , Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, along with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Public Service Commission, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.”

Reaction among Georgia’s environmental community has been muted.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, based in Virginia with an office in Atlanta, issued a statement Tuesday that reads, in full:

  • “Today’s unfortunate decision by the Supreme Court hits pause on the country’s strongest action to lower harmful carbon pollution, but it won’t stop the massive shift to cleaner, cheaper energy already underway in the Southeast and across the nation.
  • “The goals of the Clean Power Plan reflect this energy shift: we’re embracing cleaner energy options that would be happening with or without this plan. We are doing this for public health and the many communities and children that suffer from pollution. We are doing this for the new hometown jobs created by solar and energy efficiency programs. We are doing this to minimize the sea level rise and powerful storms our communities will see more and more if we do not address the carbon pollution driving climate change.
  • “The progress our states have made is significant and our region’s job-generating shift to clean power is inevitable. That progress should and will continue even while the Clean Power Plan is under review.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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