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EPA Loses its Ability to Regulate Carbon Emissions

In its latest ruling, the Supreme Court strips the executive agency's power to enforce Obama-era restrictions on carbon emissions.
EPA Loses its Ability to Regulate Carbon Emissions

The Supreme Court on Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, dealing a blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to address climate change, writes The New York Times.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal justices in dissent, saying that the majority had stripped the E.P.A. of "the power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time."

Supreme Court Curbs E.P.A.’s Authority to Address Climate Change (The New York Times)

Excerpt from The New York Times: The ruling appeared to curtail the agency’s ability to regulate the energy sector, limiting it to measures like emission controls at individual power plants and, unless Congress acts, ruling out more ambitious approaches like a cap-and-trade system at a time when experts are issuing increasingly dire warnings about the quickening pace of global warming. The implications of the ruling could extend well beyond environmental policy and further signal that the court’s newly expanded conservative majority is deeply skeptical of the power of administrative agencies to address major issues facing the nation and the planet.
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In his opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: In "certain extraordinary cases, both separation of powers principles and a practical understanding of legislative intent make us 'reluctant to read into ambiguous statutory text' the delegation claimed to be lurking there. To convince us otherwise, something more than a merely plausible textual basis for the agency action is necessary. The agency instead must point to 'clear congressional authorization' for the power it claims."

Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent: "Today, the court strips the EPA of the power Congress gave it to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time. It deprives EPA of the power needed — and the power granted — to curb the emission of greenhouse gases."

Supreme Court restricts the EPA's authority to mandate carbon emissions (NPR)

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According to The Wall Street Journal, the decision was in line with several Supreme Court decisions in recent years that reined in federal agencies by striking down regulations on the grounds that agencies had usurped power from Congress and the judicial branch.

Supreme Court Limits Environmental Protection Agency’s Authority (The Wall Street Journal)

Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: West Virginia led a coalition of Republican-leaning states and coal producers that asked the Supreme Court to weigh in and clarify the limits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, raising broader questions about how far the regulatory authority of federal agencies extends. The coalition said powerful and wide-reaching policies should come from Congress, not agency-level regulators. The Obama-era EPA rules were "illustrative of an alarming trend whereby presidents turn to implied authority, typically in long-extant statutes, to achieve what Congress fails to do," the libertarian Cato Institute said in a legal brief.

UPDATE: In a related development, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the newest Supreme Court Justice, replacing the now-retired Justice Breyer.

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