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A Victory for Grid Reliability



July 2, 2024 - In a significant victory for the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid, the U.S. Supreme Court granted state and industry requests to stay enforcement of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Ozone Transport rule. This is the first major court ruling on EPA’s suite of rules designed to prematurely retire coal plants.

While pursuing the case in the D.C. Circuit Court, last October, the National Mining Association (NMA) and others filed an emergency application for immediate stay of EPA’s final rule pending the outcome of the court case. Securing a stay in cases like this is essential because it hits the “pause” button on the damaging imposition of a potentially illegal rule, while the courts examine the issue. Last week’s decision from the Supreme Court blocks the implementation of this rule – one that would have a devastating impact on the coal fleet and the reliability of our power supply.


With the stay in place, the case will continue in the D.C. Circuit Court. The Supreme Court majority found in its granting of the stay that industry and the states are likely to win on the merits of the case.

Rich Nolan, NMA President and CEO, said in response to the ruling, “We’re pleased that the Supreme Court recognized the immediate harm to industry and consumers posed by this reckless rule. No agency is permitted to operate outside of the clear bounds of the law and today, once again, the Supreme Court reminded the EPA of that fact.”

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) also applauded the decision, saying implementation of the rule would have led to the early curtailment or retirement of 62 coal generating units as soon as 2026. The collective loss of the 32 gigawatts of generating capacity “would further jeopardize the reliability of an already stressed electric grid.”

NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said, “this rule creates major threats to the reliability of the electric grid and will saddle Americans with higher energy bills while accelerating the retirement of always available generating resources.” He added, “EPA’s approach to regulating the electric sector stretches well beyond the agency’s authority.”

Checking the Suite of Rules

This rule is one of the lynchpins of EPA’s suite of rules designed to close the coal fleet nearly overnight. While there has been considerable and understandable attention given to the so-called Clean Power Plan 2.0, the Ozone Transport rule – if implemented – would have immediate and devastating consequences for reliability.

The very power plants keeping the lights on and air conditioners working this summer, and likely coming to the rescue this winter, are in the crosshairs of EPA’s regulatory blitz.

As electricity demand soars – and the EPA refuses to recognize the danger of its agenda – meeting EPA’s regulatory onslaught in the courts and protecting the right of states to determine the most responsible and effective way to regulate their power plants is critically important. It’s also the outcome Americans want.

Recent national polling conducted for the NMA found that 72 percent of Americans are concerned about the speed of the energy transition’s impacts on reliability and 65 percent of Americans believe we should pause closures of existing, well-operating power plants until replacement generating capacity is in place and operational. This is up from 56 percent in May 2023, the last time the NMA polled on this question.

Americans are right to be concerned about grid reliability, energy affordability and how we’re managing the energy transition. Fortunately, EPA’s dangerous agenda and regulatory overreach is beginning to unravel in the courts.