The Supreme Court has voted to temporarily freeze a key part of President Barack Obama’s plan to slow climate change. In a 5-4 decision handed down Tuesday, the court surprised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other groups fighting climate change by blocking the Clean Power Plan that would call for power plants to make drastic cuts in carbon emissions. The court’s ruling will put the plan on the back burner, awaiting hearings where opponents will air their objections near four months from now.

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Motivation for the court’s ruling stems from pending complaints issued by 29 mostly Republican-led states, as well as industry groups, which are scheduled to be heard June 2 in the Washington DC circuit court of appeals. Following the court’s ruling, the White House immediately responded with a brief statement expressing its objection, which said in part, “We disagree with the supreme court’s decision.” Officials told the press later this temporary block was just another “bump in the road” toward passing the emissions requirements. Obama has not commented yet on the decision, but his remarks are expected soon.

Related: Supreme Court halts Obama’s limits on power plant emissions (2015)

In the mean time, EPA officials reiterated the agency’s position. “We’re disappointed the rule has been stayed, but you can’t stay climate change and you can’t stay climate action,” said Melissa Harrison, an EPA spokeswoman. “We believe strongly in this rule and we will continue working with our partners to address carbon pollution.”

Unsurprisingly, members of the groups who oppose the plan – including the main lobby group for the coal industry – are celebrating the decision, declaring it is an indication the court will side with them and continue to oppose Obama’s plan. Republicans in Congress also applauded the court’s ruling, with some choosing to interpret the decision as a message to the president about his use of executive power. “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is an important step toward reining in the Obama administration’s unprecedented abuse of executive power,” Deb Fischer, Republican Senator from Nebraska, said in a statement.

The proposed Clean Power Plan is the first of its kind calling for cuts in carbon emissions from U.S. power plants and would have called for a one-third reduction in emissions by 2030. Fossil fuel-fired power plants are the United States’ largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for 32 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the country, according to EPA reports.

Via The Guardian

Images via Shutterstock (1, 2)