In a 6-3 ruling on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to limit the U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants under the Clean Power Act.
The ruling comes after a lengthy legal battle since the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) was first enacted as a measure to combat climate change. When President Donald Trump took office, he moved to repeal the CPP and installed a new set of rules known as the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE Rule), SCOTUSblog reported.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in January 2021 then moved to vacate Trump’s repeal and the ACE Rule, prompting Republican-led states and coal companies to ask the Supreme Court to review the case, the blog added.
According to The Epoch Times, West Virginia Solicitor General Lindsay See said during oral arguments that EPA was directed by Congress to “regulate on a source-specific level, which means identifying measures particular buildings can take to reduce their own emissions.”
However, the D.C. Court moved to give the EPA “much broader power … to reshape the nation’s energy sector, or most any other industry for that matter, by choosing which sources should exist at all, and setting standards to make it happen,” See said, according to the outlet.
At the center of the dispute was whether Congress gave the EPA the authority to “devise emissions caps based on the generation shifting approach the agency took in the Clean Power Plan,” according to SCOTUSblog. The court ultimately ruled that EPA lacked the authority to do so.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts notes:
“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.” New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 187
(1992). But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme in
Section 111(d). A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.”
Roberts was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch.