(CNSNews.com) – In a vote of 6 to 3, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in West Virginia v. EPA and agreed instead with Republican-led states and coal companies that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit interpreting the Clean Air Act to expand the EPA’s power “exceeded the agency’s authority.”
According to the SCOTUSblog, at issue were “two different and conflicting sets of regulations – neither of which is currently in effect.”
In 2015, the Obama administration adopted the Clean Power Plan, which sought to combat climate change by reducing carbon pollution from power plants – for example, by shifting electricity production to natural-gas plants or wind farms. The CPP set individual goals for each state to cut power-plant emissions by 2030. But in 2016, the Supreme Court put the CPP on hold in response to a challenge by several states and private parties.
In 2019, the Trump administration repealed the CPP and replaced it with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which gave states discretion to set standards and gave power plants flexibility in complying with those standards. The Trump administration argued that it was required to end the CPP because it exceeded the EPA’s authority under Section 7411 of the Clean Air Act, which gives the EPA the power to determine the “best system of emission reduction” for buildings that emit air pollutants. That provision, the Trump administration contended, only allows the EPA to implement measures that apply to the physical premises of a power plant, rather than the kind of industry-wide measures included in the CPP.
President Joe Biden reacted to the ruling, calling it “another devastating decision that 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 said in a statement.
He directed his “legal team to work with the Department of Justice and affected agencies” to review the decision and find ways “under federal law” that his administration can “continue protecting Americans from harmful pollution, including pollution that causes climate change.”
“Since the Clean Air Act was passed by a bipartisan majority in Congress in 1970, the landmark law has enabled both Democratic and Republican administrations to protect and improve the air we breathe, cutting air pollution by 78 percent even as our economy quadrupled in size. Yet today’s decision sides with special interests that have waged a long-term campaign to strip away our right to breathe clean air,” Biden said.
“We cannot and will not ignore the danger to public health and existential threat the climate crisis poses. The science confirms what we all see with our own eyes – the wildfires, droughts, extreme heat, and intense storms are endangering our lives and livelihoods,” the president said.
He pledged to continue using his “lawful executive authority, including the EPA’s legally-upheld authorities, to keep our air clean, protect public health, and tackle the climate crisis.”
“We will work with states and cities to pass and uphold laws that protect their citizens. And we will keep pushing for additional Congressional action, so that Americans can fully seize the economic opportunities, cost-saving benefits, and security of a clean energy future. Together, we will tackle environmental injustice, create good-paying jobs, and lower costs for families building the clean energy economy,” Biden said.
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