The Real Prize: Supremes Gut EPA

June 30, 2022

And possibly opening the way to destroy the government’s ability to regulate anything at all.

And that’s really what this whole 40 year effort has been about. The billionaires who funded this effort from the start feel that no one should be able to tell the rich and powerful what to do, about anything, ever.

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, dealing a blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to address climate change.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal justices in dissent, saying that the majority had stripped the E.P.A. of “the power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.”

The ruling appeared to curtail the agency’s ability to regulate the energy sector, limiting it to measures like emission controls at individual power plants and, unless Congress acts, ruling out more ambitious approaches like a cap-and-trade system at a time when experts are issuing increasingly dire warnings about the quickening pace of global warming.

The implications of the ruling could extend well beyond environmental policy and further signal that the court’s newly expanded conservative majority is deeply skeptical of the power of administrative agencies to address major issues facing the nation and the planet.

That skepticism has been evident in recent decisions arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The court ruled, for instance, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was not authorized to impose a moratorium on evictions and that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was powerless to tell large employers to have their workers be vaccinated or undergo frequent testing.

The question before the justices in the new case, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 20-1530, was whether the Clean Air Act allowed the E.P.A. to issue sweeping regulations across the power sector. More broadly, the court was asked to address whether Congress must “speak with particular clarity when it authorizes executive agencies to address major political and economic questions.

The court has called this inquiry the “major questions doctrine.”

Axios:

The Supreme Court on Thursday imposed major constraints on the breadth of EPA’s authority to limit carbon emissions from power plants.

Why it matters: The 6-3 ruling in West Virginia v. EPA will likely make it harder for the Biden administration to meet its climate targets — and may tie the hands of future administrations that want to take aggressive action on climate change.

Driving the news: The court said EPA lacks wide latitude under the current Clean Air Act to force changes in the country’s power mix that speed movement toward zero-carbon tech.

  • “Congress did not grant EPA in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act the authority to devise emissions caps based on the generation shifting approach the Agency took in the Clean Power Plan,” the conservative majority wrote in West Virginia v. EPA.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, joined by justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The three liberal justices, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, dissented.
  • The decision follows a major scientific report on the fast-closing window to prevent some of the most dangerous effects of global warming, which is already causing substantial harm.

The big picture: The new limits on executive power come as President Biden’s huge clean energy investment package has stalled in Congress.

  • That puts a heavier burden on the federal agencies to cut planet-warming emissions with existing authorities, which now face new constraints.
  • The administration’s climate goals include a 50% cut in economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a fully decarbonized electricity sector by 2035.
  • Power plants are the second-largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • The administration is in the process of writing regulations for these facilities.

Catch up fast: The case stems from lower court battles over Obama-era rules to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, and a more modest Trump-era replacement.

  • Neither regulation is in effect. But last year, GOP-led states and coal companies successfullypetitioned the court to hear cases on the scope of EPA’s power.

What we’re watching: How EPA will seek to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants in light of the ruling.

  • In March, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the agency’s plans include indirectly tackling CO2 with rules that target air and water pollution.

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3 Responses to “The Real Prize: Supremes Gut EPA”

  1. Ron Benenati Says:

    So about your post earlier this week about “optimism”………
    These days I just hope I see justice in my lifetime.


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