The Supreme Court all but signaled the end of President Obama's EPA plan to regulate power plant emissions by ordering the regulations halted until the case can be heard by the high court.
The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations "an unprecedented power grab."
By temporarily freezing the rule the high court's order signals that opponents have made a strong argument against the plan. A federal appeals court last month refused to put it on hold.
The court's four liberal justices said they would have denied the request.
The plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.
Appellate arguments are set to begin June 2.
The compliance period starts in 2022, but states must submit their plans to the Environmental Protection Administration by September or seek an extension.
Many states opposing the plan depend on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas. They argued that power plants will have to spend billions of dollars to begin complying with a rule that may end up being overturned.
At this point, there's little doubt that there's five justices willing to kill the plan even though the Supreme Court wouldn't hear the case until at least 2017. At this point the courts have all but put an end to recess appointments, immigration reform, and now climate change that Republicans refuse to act upon.
This one is going to hurt, frankly. There's little doubt that a Democrat in the White House wouldn't tackle regulations like this again until a second term, and it will take at least that long to get control of the House back from the GOP.
Another six years of dicking around and refusing to do anything about climate change is only going to make things worse.