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Supreme Court halts Obama climate change rules

Washington: A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday halted President Barack Obama's controversial new power plant regulations, dealing a blow to the administration's plan to address global warming.

Reacting to a lawsuit from 29 states, and the energy industry, the SC blocked the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan from going forward while the rule is challenged in court.

Advocators of the plan did not expect the high court to step in at this juncture, especially since the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hold oral arguments in June and neither the states nor the industry would have had to come into compliance for at least 2 years.

A divided Supreme Court stepped in at this time to block the program after a lower court declined to do so indicate that at least 5 justices are concerned with some aspect of the plan.

The senior administration officials were surprised by the high court's action. One official called the court's move "extraordinary and unprecedented," saying it's rare for the Supreme Court to grant a stay on a rule whose legality has not been reviewed by a lower court.

However, the officials said that individual states could still move forward with implementing plans to reduce carbon output, and added the court's decision was not likely to affect the U.S. commitment to the international climate accord agreed to in Paris in December.

Congressional Republicans have voted to block the EPA limits on the same day Obama spoke at the Paris talks. And the administration's actions on climate change have been frequently criticized on the campaign trail by Republican candidates.