U.S. Supreme Court says EPA cannot regulate carbon emissions under Clean Air Act

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Today, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

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The 6-3 decision, in which the three liberal judges disagree, raises the possibility that an act of Congress will be needed to create rules to limit warming emissions.

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“Congress did not give the EPA, in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the authority to develop emission limits based on the generational switching approach that the Agency used in the Clean Energy Plan,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in a majority opinion. , which he was joined by five other conservative judges.

“From the EPA’s perspective on Section 111(d), Congress implicitly mandated him, and he alone, to balance many of the vital national policy considerations associated with the basic regulation of how Americans get their energy,” Roberts wrote. . “There is little reason to believe that Congress did so.” On such occasions, he said:[a] the decision of such magnitude and consequences rests with Congress itself or an agency acting in accordance with the clear delegation of that representative body.”

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Dissenting judges disagreed with Roberts’ assessment, instead arguing that the EPA has clear authority in this case under the Clean Air Act.

“Congress directed the Environmental Protection Agency to remedy this potentially catastrophic damage, including through the regulation of fossil fuel power plants,” Judge Elena Kagan wrote in a dissenting opinion. “Section 111 of the Clean Air Act directs the EPA to regulate stationary sources of any substance that “causes or contributes significantly to air pollution” and that “may reasonably be expected to endanger the health or welfare of the public.” Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases fit that description.”

The case arose when the state of West Virginia sued the EPA challenging its authority to regulate carbon emissions from existing coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants under the Clean Energy Plan, a 2015 Obama administration policy. The rule would require states to implement their own plans to reduce carbon emissions starting this year before it goes into full effect in 2030. It was planned that carbon emissions would be reduced by 32%.

EPA Obama rated that this rule would create a net benefit of $26 billion to $45 billion, including health benefits of $14 billion to $34 billion.

The Trump administration has sought to circumvent the rule, largely by changing how the agency assesses the health impact of pollution mitigation policies. This change was rejected by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, although the court did not reinstate the Clean Energy Plan itself.

The Biden administration also did not seek to bring back the Clean Energy Plan, but instead created its own rules. This latest decision by the Supreme Court will surely ruin those plans.

In her dissent, Kagan pointed to the possible consequences of the majority’s decision. “The causes and dangers of climate change are no longer in serious doubt. Modern science “states unequivocally that human influence” — in particular the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide — has “warmed up the atmosphere, the ocean and the earth,” Kagan wrote, referring to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“If current levels of emissions continue, babies born this year could live to see parts of the east coast being swallowed up by the ocean,” she said. Heat and harsh weather can cause mass migration, civil unrest and the collapse of governments around the world. By the end of the century, 4.6 million people could die from climate change-related causes, she said.

Credit: techcrunch.com /

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