After U.S. Supreme Court puts hold on Clean Power Plan, Gov. Dayton should stop all activities related to the plan

The U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on implementing the Clean Power Plan today.  This comes on the same day the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is holding a listening session in St. Cloud on the plan, which aims to sharply reduce the amount of carbon released from the smokestacks of electricity power plants. 

A coalition of twenty-five states and four state agencies have challenged the Obama administration’s authority to implement the plan.  In their brief requesting the stay, the states explain how the EPA’s plan aims to “reorganize the energy grids in nearly every State in the nation” by forcing states to shift power generation away from fossil fuels towards EPA’s preferred source, solar and wind.   The shift in electricity generation the EPA has in mind is truly monumental.  Furthermore, its intrusion and demands upon state governments is without precedent.  “The Power Plan,” according to the states, “is a blatant act of commandeering that leaves the States no choice but to alter their laws and programs governing electricity generation and delivery to accord with federal policy.”

Minnesota did not challenge the Clean Power Plan.  In fact, the Dayton administration has welcomed the plan with open arms.  Lt. Governor Tina Smith called the plan “a good step forward for our country” in a press release and state agencies are hard at work beginning all of the state activity the Clean Power Plan requires, including the listening sessions that are now taking place statewide. 

This brings up an interesting legal question: Does the U.S. Supreme Court’s order to stay the Clean Power Plan rule reach state activity related to the rule? 

The stay, in effect, wipes the rule from federal regulations until the legal challenges are settled.  Without a federal rule directing state action and without a state law directing action, it seems there’s a good legal argument the Dayton administration should cease any activity related to the rule.

Putting aside whether Dayton must cease Clean Power Plan activities, it just makes common sense to put all state implementation activities on hold.  Any state resources spent on implementation will be a complete waste if the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately overturns the rule.  Worse, actions to shift the state’s electricity generation in response to the Clean Power Plan would irreversibly raise electricity rates on all Minnesotans.