Supreme Court restricts EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants

Washington- The Supreme Court on Thursday curtailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, dealing a significant blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to fight climate change

The court split 6-3 along ideological lines by concluding that Congress, through the Clean Air Act, did not grant the EPA the power to adopt a regulatory scheme in its own right to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants to prevent global warming. against the earth. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, while the court’s three-member Liberal bloc disagreed.

The decision is a victory for a group of Republican-led states and coal companies in their long-standing effort to curtail the EPA’s power to issue regulations to curb carbon emissions.

“Limiting carbon dioxide emissions to levels that will force a nationwide transition from using coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to today’s crisis,'” wrote Roberts. “But it is unlikely that Congress has authorized the EPA to adopt such a regulatory system on its own in Section 111(d). A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or with a agency acting on the basis of a clear delegation from that representative body.”

Judge Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, criticized the court majority for imposing limits on the EPA that “contrary to” the statute written by Congress and accused the majority of replacing “her own ideas about congressional policymaking” .”

“Whatever else this court knows, it has no idea how to tackle climate change. And let’s just say it’s obvious: There’s a lot at stake here,” Judge Elena Kagan wrote in contradiction. “Yet the court today prevents the congressional authority from taking action to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The court appoints itself — rather than Congress or the expert bureau — the decision-maker on climate policy. I can’t think of anything more terrifying. .”

The case stems from the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, completed in 2015, which implemented a directive from then-President Barack Obama to use an additional provision of the Clear Air Act to address climate change by imposing mandates on existing coal and natural gas plants to reduce emissions.

More than half of states and other parties challenged the Clean Power Plan in federal court and the Supreme Court in 2016 ceased enforcement of the proposal by 5-4 votes. As the proceedings continued, there was a change in presidential administrations and the EPA under then-President Donald Trump Obama-era standards repealed after finding that it “significantly exceeded” its jurisdiction under federal environmental law. The desk too new guidelines rolled out for coal-fired power stations.

The repeal of the Clean Power Plan and new guidelines were then: challenged by a group of 22 states, environmental groups and other stakeholders, although 19 states, largely led by Republicans, and coal companies intervened in support of the Trump administration’s actions.

In July 2021, the DC Circuit scrapped the Trump administration’s withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan and its subsequent replacement plan. The states then appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the lower court’s decision gives the EPA broad power over carbon emissions and to unilaterally recreate key sectors of the U.S. economy.

“How we respond to climate change is a pressing issue for our nation, but some of the paths forward pose serious and disproportionate costs to states and countless other parties,” West Virginia officials told the court when they asked the judges to to take up the matter.

President Biden has promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030, and plans to combat climate change were a cornerstone of his domestic policy agenda, the so-called Build Back Better plan. But the president’s proposal stalled in the Senate, and it’s unlikely the Senate will move to enact climate regulations.

Mr Biden condemned the Supreme Court decision, calling it “devastating” and damaging to the nation, but vowed to find ways for his administration to fight climate change, including through EPA action.

“Today’s decision sided with special interests that have waged a protracted campaign to strip our right to clean air,” he said in a statement. “We cannot and will not ignore the threat to public health and the existential threat posed by the climate crisis. Science is confirming what we are all seeing with our own eyes – the wildfires, droughts, extreme heat and intense storms are bringing our lives and us livelihoods at risk.”

The president continued: “Our fight against climate change must continue, and it will.”

The Biden administration in the dispute was backed by a host of major companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google and Tesla, who told the Supreme Court in a friend-of-the-court briefing that while they make their own efforts to combat climate change , it is “vital” that the EPA “play a leading role in regulating greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Supreme Court’s decision to limit the power of the EPA goes against what: climate experts warn Something urgently needs to be done to avert the worst effects of the climate crisis. Climate and health behavioral scientist Sweta Chakraborty, chair of climate solutions group We Don’t Have Time, told CBS News that stricter regulations are needed instead.

“We’re allowing for a free-for-all. And it couldn’t be a worse time,” she said. “We are in a climate crisis.”

It also sets a “dangerous precedent,” she said, in that the decision says “we don’t need governments to regulate the industry” and could dismantle more federal policies and regulations.

“Having statements like this really means it’s about oil and gas that’s free for everyone … we can even unabashedly support the pollution of our communities in the United States,” she said. “And that’s an extremely dangerous path to go down.”

The Supreme Court’s decision will undoubtedly also affect the US’s view of the world stage, Chakraborty said. Biden’s election to office “renewed global hope” for U.S. climate leadership, she said, but that could change based on policy.

“The promises made by the Biden and Biden administrations themselves have not yet been fulfilled. And this SCOTUS ruling is another example of how we are actually going backwards,” she said. “What belief are we actually giving to the rest of the world that the United States is actually doing its part?”

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