February 12, 2016 3:00PM

Spin Cycle: White House Spins SCOTUS Stay on Climate Plan

The Spin Cycle is a reoccurring feature based upon just how much the latest weather or climate story, policy pronouncement, or simply poo-bah blather spins the truth. Statements are given a rating between 1-5 spin cycles, with less cycles meaning less spin. For a more in-depth description, visit the inaugural edition.


As one of us has already noted, on Monday evening the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to put President Obama’s Clean Power Plan on ice—where it will remain until the justices get a chance to rule on the regulatory package themselves or until a new President sidelines it. The White House, whistling past a graveyard of unrecyclable solar panels (thanks to all the arsenic in them), blew up the vorticity of its spin cycle into relativistic speeds, calling it a “bump in the road” and a “temporary procedural issue.”

Over in the UK, Lisa Nandy, the shadow energy and climate minister knows why: "There is such strong support within the US for Obama’s efforts on climate change that I think this ruling will prove to be only a very temporary issue."

Au contraire! According to a Yougov poll late last month, a grand total of 9 per cent of Americans think global warming is the most important issue confronting us. In only one country was there less support:  Saudi Arabia.

All of this ignores some facts on the ground. This is the biggest intervention by the Supremes in ongoing litigation since they stopped the partial Florida recount in December 2000 in the case that became Bush v. Gore. They only do stuff like this when there’s a lot at stake, irreparable harm will be done by not intervening, and at least five justices believe it more likely than not that the challenge will succeed.

Monday’s  5-4 vote hinged on Justice Anthony Kennedy. This is noteworthy because the only reason the Clean Power Plan came about in the first place was because of his deciding vote in the 2007 case, Massachusetts v. EPA, which controversially said that the Clean Air Act amendments passed in the George H. W. Bush administration contained one small bit of language that may allow the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide.

But the Court reminded the administration in last summer’s mercury ruling – Michigan v. EPA – that when it starts citing an obscure part of decades-old legislation in order to drastically remake the nation, it’s going to take notice. The damage had already been done with the regulations at issue in that case – you can’t unspend the money that was spent complying with the illegal regulation – but it’s a different story with the Clean Power Plan, which the Court has now nipped in the bud.

This “bump in the road” is actually Mount McKinley Denali. And calling the Supreme Court’s stay a “temporary procedural issue” is about as accurate as saying the same about stopping the 2000 Florida recount.

Five spinnies, hands down!

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