Supreme Court to Rule on EPA

EPA v US Power Trade

Supreme Court to Rule on EPA's Right to Regulate Greenhouse Gases

Environment News Service reported yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court will review an appeals court ruling that unanimously upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) right to regulate greenhouse gases emitted from power plants and factories.

The legal action was brought by the Utility Air Regulatory Group, a power company trade association, and the attorney generals of 13 states.

The EPA proposed new Clean Air Act standards on September 20, 2013, which intended to cut carbon pollution from new power plants to combat climate change and improve public health. The proposed new standards would require any new large natural gas-fired turbines to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, and new small natural gas-fired turbines to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. New coal-fired units would be required to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour, or meet somewhat tighter limits if averaging emissions over multiple years.

At issue is whether the EPA can use a 2007 Supreme Court decision that allows the agency to regulate greenhouse gases from “mobile sources” under the Clean Air Act to further regulate emissions from stationary sources.

The Supreme Court consolidated a number of petitions filed by Texas and 11 other states. Alaska joined a case with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said, “The EPA violated the U.S. Constitution and the federal Clean Air Act when it concocted greenhouse gas regulations out of whole cloth. The EPA’s illegal regulations threaten Texas jobs and Texas employers. As Texas has proven in other lawsuits against the EPA, this is a runaway federal agency, so we are pleased the Obama Administration will have to defend its lawless regulations before the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The EPA proposal reached the first milestone outlined in President Barack Obama’s June 25 Memorandum to EPA on “Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards,” a major part of the President’s Climate Action Plan.

“Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. By taking commonsense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children,” McCarthy said September 20. “These standards will also spark the innovation we need to build the next generation of power plants, helping grow a more sustainable clean energy economy.”

Power plants are the largest concentrated source of emissions in the United States, together accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. While the United States has limits in place for arsenic, mercury and lead pollution that power plants can emit, there are no national limits on the amount of carbon pollution new power plants can emit.