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Tags: epa | fossil fuel | greenhouse gas | emissions | power plants

Supreme Court Weighs Challenge to EPA's Climate Change Powers

The U.S. Supreme Court building stands before a blue sky
(Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 28 February 2022 08:06 AM EST

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case Monday challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's power to fight greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's power plants.

The case of West Virginia v. EPA pits attorneys general from West Virginia and other GOP-led states against power utilities, public health groups, and the Biden administration, ABC News reported.

Its outcome might determine if the United States will be able to meet the government's goal of a complete shift to the use of clean energy sources by 2035, as well as a call to cut carbon pollution by 50% within the next eight years.

"We need every tool in the toolbox to address climate change," Vickie Patton, general counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund, told ABC News. "An action [by the court] here is a real setback."

The dispute behind the case began when the Obama administration adopted the Clean Power Plan in 2015, an attempt to fight climate change through reducing power plants' carbon pollution, SCOTUSBlog reported.

Several states and private entities challenged the plan, and the Supreme Court in February 2016 put a hold on the plan before it took effect. Meanwhile, in 2019, the EPA under then-President Donald Trump repealed the Clean Power Plan and put in place the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, establishing different emissions guidelines for existing coal-fired power plants and giving states more discretion in setting standards, notes the website.

But other plaintiffs challenged the Trump EPA's repeal of the Clean Power Plan and the adoption of the ACE Rule, and on Trump's last day in office, Jan. 19, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the repeal of the Clean Power Plan and the ACE Rule.

In the current case, 20 Republican-led states, including West Virginia and North Dakota, are asking the Supreme Court to review the circuit court ruling.

Meanwhile, the Clean Air Act of 1970 put the EPA in charge of protecting health from airborne contaminants, and the Supreme Court has affirmed twice that includes greenhouse gasses, reports ABC News.

In the case against the EPA, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the plaintiffs are saying the agency wants to "reshape the power grids and seize control over electricity production nationwide," which the government disputes.

The plaintiffs are also claiming, if the lower court's decision is allowed to stand, that will allow the EPA to threaten tens of thousands of Americans' jobs and the energy and coal industries.

However, the Biden administration is arguing emission guidelines have not been published or enforced yet.

"Petitioners are seeking a ruling on what EPA might do in the future, but federal courts do not have jurisdiction to decide cases on what could happen," Andrew Restrepo, a senior attorney with the Sierra Club argues, adding the states and coal companies are not explaining and cannot explain how they would be injured.

The Supreme Court arguments are beginning on the same day the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its new report warning, "human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world."

Legal analysts are saying a decision against the EPA could also hinder other government agencies' ability to set health and safety regulations.

Meanwhile, conservative legal scholars argue that major rules that govern Americans' lives must be approved by Congress, and last month the Supreme Court, using those grounds, blocked the Occupational Health and Safety Administration's vaccine mandate for large employers.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, more than 3,300 fossil fuel-using power plants remain in the country, and an estimated 1.7 million Americans work in the nation's fossil fuel industries.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The Supreme Court Monday will be hearing oral arguments in a case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's power to fight greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's power plants.
epa, fossil fuel, greenhouse gas, emissions, power plants
Monday, 28 February 2022 08:06 AM
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