Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Supreme Court Rules on EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In the Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA case, the Supreme Court came to a final ruling in June which resulted, mostly, in a win for the EPA.  The high court ruled that the EPA could require greenhouse gas emission control on larger companies such as power plants and other extensive pollution-causing companies of similar size. However, they ruled against the emission control over smaller offenders of greenhouse gas emissions. The Court was critical of the EPA's attempt to rewrite the provisions outlined in the Clean Air Act.

According to Justice Antonin Scalia, the EPA "sought to regulate sources that it said were responsible for 86 percent of all the greenhouse gases emitted from stationary sources nationwide." With the Supreme Court's amendments, it is by their calculations that 83 percent of those emissions will still be able to be regulated by the EPA. Though this decision does limit the EPA's ability to heavily regulate greenhouse gas emissions, it still offers plenty of viable options available within the EPA's arsenal of command without giving them the power to have regulatory control over millions of smaller entities. Under the scope of the Clean Air Act's provisions, the EPA still maintains the ability to set emissions standards to desirable levels without giving the EPA permission to require permits based on greenhouse gas emissions alone.

Although it was not an overall victory, the EPA still considered it "a win for our efforts to reduce carbon pollution because it allows EPA, states, and other permitting authorities to continue to require carbon pollution limits in permits for the largest pollution sources.”  In addition, industry groups made requests for the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling of the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA. The 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA court case brought suit against the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants.  Had the Court ruled in favor of Massachusetts and the other states involved, this would have removed the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. However, the Supreme Court denied the reconsideration of their ruling, which in turn resulted in another small victory for the EPA by reinstating the Court's support of EPA jurisdiction over greenhouse gas emissions.

For further discussion regarding the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions visit http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/supreme-court-sides-against-epa-carbon.  

Details on the case are available at http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/utility-air-regulatory-group-v-environmental-protection-agency/


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