Supreme Court Limits EPA in Reducing Power Plant Emissions


(Washington, DC) – In a blow to the fight against climate change, the Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the country’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. .

By a 6-3 vote, with Tories in the majority, the court said the Clean Air Act did not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions power plants that contribute to global warming.

The court’s decision could complicate the administration’s plans to tackle climate change. Its proposal to regulate emissions from power plants is expected by the end of the year.

President Joe Biden aims to halve the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade and have an emissions-free electricity sector by 2035. Power plants account for about 30% of carbon dioxide production.

The judges heard arguments in the case on the same day a United Nations panel report warned that the effects of climate change are about to worsen, likely making the world sicker, hungrier, poorer and more dangerous in the years to come.

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The power plant case has a long and complicated history that begins with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. This plan would have required states to reduce emissions from electricity generation, primarily by shifting away from coal-fired power plants.

But this plan never took effect. Acting on a lawsuit brought by West Virginia and others, the Supreme Court blocked it in 2016 by a 5-4 vote, with conservatives in the majority.

With the plan on hold, the legal battle over it continued. But after President Donald Trump took office, the EPA repealed the Obama-era plan. The agency argued that its power to cut carbon emissions was limited, and it devised a new plan that sharply reduced the federal government’s role in the issue.

New York, 21 other mostly Democratic states, the District of Columbia and some of the nation’s largest cities have pushed ahead with the Trump plan. The federal appeals court in Washington ruled against the repeal and the new plan, and its ruling left nothing in effect while the new administration drafted new policy.

Adding to the unusual nature of the High Court’s involvement, the reductions sought in the Obama plan by 2030 have already been achieved through the market-driven closure of hundreds of coal-fired power plants.

Power station operators serving 40 million people have asked the court to preserve companies’ flexibility to reduce emissions while maintaining reliable service. Major companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Tesla have also backed the administration.

Nineteen states and coal companies, mostly led by Republicans, led the fight in the Supreme Court against the EPA’s broad power to regulate carbon production.

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