Supreme Court Will Not Reconsider Decisions Upholding Clean Energy Policies in Illinois, New York

April 15, 2019
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Washington, D.C. – April 15, 2019) The U.S. Supreme Court will not reconsider two lower court decisions upholding state climate and clean energy policies, declining industry-led petitions designed to overturn important state protections.

The Court today denied certiorari – or, refused to hear – challenges to circuit court decisions in Illinois and New York that affirmed the states’ right to create robust climate policies to address climate change and protect people from dangerous pollution.

“In case after case, our courts have confirmed that states have the fundamental legal authority to craft clean energy policies, address climate change, and work to reduce unhealthy air pollution in order to safeguard the welfare and well-being of their people. The Supreme Court’s order today puts any lingering questions to rest. It’s great news for all states that are working to create their best possible climate and clean energy policies,” said EDF Senior Attorney Michael Panfil.

In September of 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a clean energy policy created by the state of Illinois that provided Zero Emission Credits (ZEC) to qualifying nuclear plants. Later the same month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a similar New York state clean energy policy. The aim of the programs, as stated by the Second Circuit, is “to prevent nuclear generators that do not emit carbon dioxide from retiring until renewable sources of energy can pick up the slack.”

Both state ZEC programs were part of larger energy reforms designed to spur transitions to renewable energy and increase energy efficiency and secure major reductions in climate and air pollution.

EDF filed amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs in both cases supporting the states’ right to craft their own clean energy and climate policies.

Power producers asked the Supreme Court to rehear the cases, claiming that federal policies should overrule the state programs. Today the Supreme Court announced it would not accept that appeal.

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