Supreme Court Limits EPA’s Authority In New Decision

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The 6-3 ruling in West Virginia v. the Environmental Protection Agency overturned a lower court ruling that had given the agency the power to make regulations on its own.

“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’ But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme in Section 111(d),” Chief Justice John Roberts said in the Court’s opinion.

The agency adopted the Affordable Clean Energy rule in 2019 to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Air Act says power plants must use the “best system of emission reductions” to hold down pollution, but the CPP reinterpreted that to allow the EPA to set statewide limits on carbon emissions, reported Fox News.

It was then repealed by the Trump administration and replaced by the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule. Last year, a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Trump’s rule.

West Virginia and 18 other states and coal companies appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, arguing that the lower court gave the EPA too much authority to regulate emissions.

“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” said Justice Roberts.

Justice Elena Kagan said “The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decisionmaker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening”.

In a statement about the ruling, President Biden said the decision “aims to take our country backwards”.

“While this decision risks damaging our nation’s ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis,” the president stated.