In one of its last acts before the death of Justice Scalia earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the implementation of President Obama’s signature initiative to address climate change—the Clean Power Plan, which limits greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Scalia’s death brought even more uncertainty to a proposal already racked with debate. As lawyers from opposing sides of the case prepare for oral arguments on June 2nd, two of those lawyers took time out to discuss and debate some of the key issues at an event at the University of Chicago.
Thomas Lorenzen, a partner at Crowell and Moring, LLP who represents the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Sean Donahue (Law ’92), a partner at Donahue and Goldberg, LLP who represents environmental groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, went head-to-head at the event hosted by EPIC, the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic and the Environmental Law Society on May 5th. Interestingly, they were both once on the side of EPA as former Justice Department attorneys.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court issued a stay order on the Obama Administration’s flagship plan to confront climate change: The Clean Power Plan. Just days later, a tidal wave of speculation over the future of the plan intensified with the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—one of the key justices who issued the stay.
Will the regulation survive? How will this state of limbo impact international climate action as the world questions whether the U.S. will keep its promises made at Paris? And, will the shift toward natural gas and renewables continue even without the rule?