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In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s surprising and controversial decision to stay implementation of the Clean Power Plan—which limits the emission of carbon dioxide from existing power plants—here’s a bit of global context (see figure below).

On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a stay on EPA’s Clean Power Plan (click here to learn more about the Clean Power Plan, and click here to learn more about the expected timeline of the stay). This stay calls into question whether some states will continue to implement policies associated with the Clean Power Plan, such as increased renewables and energy efficiency.

Last night, the Supreme Court shocked many of us when it took the unprecedented step of granting a stay of the EPA’s carbon-reducing Clean Power Plan before litigation against the rule has even been heard by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. A stay is essentially a judicial pause button that halts the implementation of a regulation while challenges to it work their way through the court system. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled the D.C.

Environmental justice advocates have a new role to play in their states’ electric-sector planning. In its new rule on carbon emissions from power plants, called the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires states to involve community stakeholders in their compliance planning processes. Underlying this requirement are the often disproportional health and environmental impacts that power plants can have on vulnerable communities.

Meeting the emission reduction goals of states within the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will yield billions of dollars in savings and tens of thousands of new jobs each year for over a decade, according to a Synapse study released today. A more stringent RGGI cap, complemented by individual state renewable resource and efficiency standards, will help states achieve their climate goals, which cluster around a 40 percent reduction from 1990 emissions levels by 2030.

A key benefit of renewable energy is that electricity generated from new renewable resources displaces electricity generated from other types of power plants. In doing so, renewables reduce the consumption of fossil fuel and production of fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions. In the Clean Power Plan originally proposed by EPA in June 2014, this effect was ignored when setting emissions targets for states: EPA’s formula omitted this effect. In the final version of the rule, released Monday, states’ targets do account for emissions displaced by renewable generation.

One of the key benefits associated with energy efficiency and renewable energy programs (clean energy) is that they reduce consumption of fossil fuel resources, and in doing so reduce fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. A report released by Synapse today provides evidence that clean energy resources have indeed displaced emissions—at a rate of up to 0.80 metric tons of CO2 per megawatt-hour, depending on the region and the type of alternative resource deployed—and are projected to continue to do so in the future.

In 2014, the U.S. electric system looked remarkably different from how it looked ten—or even five—years ago. In the past year alone, the system nearly doubled the amount of incremental installed capacity from renewables as compared to 2013, saw a 13 percent increase in renewable generation, and reached the lowest level of CO2 emissions since 1996.

When the Clean Power Plan was announced in June 2014, EPA issued proposed carbon reduction goals using a rate approach (pounds of CO2 per MWh of electricity generation), but indicated that states would have the option to convert these rate-based targets to mass-based targets (pounds of CO2). Yesterday, EPA released further guidance on how states might translate the rate-based goals to mass-based equivalents.

Today the EPA released AVERT (Avoided Emissions and Generation Tool), an open-access tool built by Synapse to allow states and other stakeholders to estimate the hourly emissions benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and programs. AVERT allows non-expert users to measure emissions of CO2, SO2, and NOX mitigated by state or multi-state programs.