In the fight against climate change, the Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the nation’s main air pollution laws can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
By a 6-3 vote, with the Conservatives in the majority, the court said that clean air law does not give the Environment Agency broad powers to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that promote global warming.
The court’s ruling could complicate the government’s plans to combat climate change. A proposal is expected to set rules on the release of power plants at the end of the year.
President Joe Biden aims to halve the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade and to emit the energy sector by 2035. Power plants account for about 30% of carbon dioxide production.
The judges heard arguments on the same day as a report by a UN commission warning that the effects of climate change were deteriorating and likely making the world weaker, hungrier, poorer and more dangerous in the coming years.
The power plant issue has a long and complex history, beginning with the Obama administration’s clean energy program. That plan would have required states to reduce emissions from electricity generation, mainly by moving away from coal-fired plants.
But that plan never took effect. The Supreme Court blocked a lawsuit filed by West Virginia and others and closed it in 2016 by 5-4 votes, with the Conservatives in the majority.
With the plan on hold, the legal battle for it continued. But after President Donald Trump took office, the EPA repealed the Obama-era plan. The agency claimed that its authority to reduce carbon emissions was limited and formulated a new plan that significantly reduced the role of the federal government in the matter.
New York, 21 other major democracies, the District of Columbia and some of the nation’s largest cities sued over the Trump program. The Federal Court of Appeals in Washington ruled against both the repeal and the new plan, and its decision did not last long while the new administration drafted a new policy.
To add to the unusual nature of the Supreme Court’s involvement, the reduction requested in the Obama program for 2030 has already been achieved through the market-driven closure of hundreds of coal plants.
Power plant companies serving 40 million people called on the court to preserve the companies’ flexibility to reduce emissions while maintaining reliable services. Prominent companies including Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Tesla also supported the government.
Nineteen Republicans, mostly led by Republicans and coal companies, led the Supreme Court’s fight against widespread EPA power to control carbon production.
The US Supreme Court limits the EPA to reducing power plant emissions
Source link The US Supreme Court limits the EPA to reducing power plant emissions