The US Supreme court blocked plans to regulate carbon emissions from American power plants on Tuesday, a blow to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan designed to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030.
The reduction in carbon emissions was a cornerstone of the US pledge made at the COP 21 climate change negotiations in Paris last December.
Unveiled by Obama in August, the plan established a target for carbon emission reductions for each state, a goal states would then be responsible for meeting by whatever means they saw fit.
However, 27 mostly Republican-led states, along with lobby groups for the coal and utilities industries, launched a legal challenge, arguing that Obama’s initiative violates individual states’ rights.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to suspend the plan until the legal challenge had been heard.
States were initially given until September 2016 to submit plans for reducing emissions. Tuesday's ruling means that deadline will now be missed, pushing any resolution beyond the end of Obama’s second term as president.
Should a Republican win the White House in November, the initiative is likely to be cancelled permanently, throwing into doubt Washington’s ability to maintain it’s international environmental commitments.
Many of the states opposing the initiative rely heavily on fossil fuels for the economic wellbeing. They argued that Obama's plan would force power plants to spend billions to comply with the reduction targets.
In response to the ruling, the White House put out a statement noting it "disagreed" with the Supreme Court's decision.