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US Supreme Court Limits Agency’s Ability To Regulate Carbon Emissions

In a decision that will hamper efforts to combat climate change, the United States Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants on Thursday.

The 6-3 decision comes as scientists warn about global warming’s growing threat.

According to the New York Times, it could potentially extend to other actions taken by administrative agencies.

The ruling came with three liberal justices dissenting, as has been the case with several recent high court rulings. According to them, the decision deprives the EPA of “the ability to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.”

Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent that the court had substituted its policy judgment for that of Congress.

“Whatever else this court may know, it has no idea how to address climate change,” she wrote. “And let us state the obvious: the stakes are high here. Nonetheless, the court today prevents a congressionally authorized agency from taking action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.”

The case, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 20-1530, asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the Clean Air Act allowed the EPA to issue broad regulations affecting the power sector and whether Congress must be particularly clear when allowing agencies to address major political and economic issues.

According to the Times, the ruling appears to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate the energy sector beyond controlling emissions at individual power plants. Unless Congress acts, it may also put an end to controls such as the cap-and-trade system.

The controversy stems from the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which was overturned by a federal appeals court on the last full day of his presidency. This rule would have relaxed restrictions on power plant greenhouse gas emissions.

The rule was based on a “fundamental misconstruction” of the relevant law, according to a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The decision concluded, “The E.P.A. has ample discretion in carrying out its mandate.” “However, it may not shirk its responsibility by imagining new limitations that the statute’s plain language does not require.”

The panel did not reinstate the 2015 Obama-era regulation known as the Clean Power Plan, which would have required utilities to shift away from coal and toward renewable energy while instructing states to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions, according to the Times. In 2016, the Supreme Court halted the plan while lawsuits from the coal industry and conservative states were heard.

According to the Times, the ruling also cleared the way for the Biden administration to impose stricter restrictions.

According to the New York Times, the Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday could go beyond environmental policy and limit power in other administrative agencies.

Previously, the court ruled that two federal agencies could not impose specific rules during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, could not impose an eviction moratorium, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could not require large employers to have their employees vaccinated or tested, according to the Times.

As the decision was announced, the president of the American Medical Association (AMA) reaffirmed the group’s support for policies aimed at achieving carbon neutrality in the United States by 2050.

“As physicians and medical leaders, we recognize the critical importance of supporting environmental sustainability efforts to help halt global climate change and the devastating health harms that it is certain to bring,” said Dr. Jack Resnick Jr. in a statement.

“Regardless of this ruling,” he added, “we will continue to do our part to protect public health and improve health outcomes for our patients across the country.”

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In a decision that will hamper efforts to combat climate change, the United States Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants on Thursday.

The 6-3 decision comes as scientists warn about global warming’s growing threat.

According to the New York Times, it could potentially extend to other actions taken by administrative agencies.

The ruling came with three liberal justices dissenting, as has been the case with several recent high court rulings. According to them, the decision deprives the EPA of “the ability to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.”

Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent that the court had substituted its policy judgment for that of Congress.

“Whatever else this court may know, it has no idea how to address climate change,” she wrote. “And let us state the obvious: the stakes are high here. Nonetheless, the court today prevents a congressionally authorized agency from taking action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.”

The case, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 20-1530, asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the Clean Air Act allowed the EPA to issue broad regulations affecting the power sector and whether Congress must be particularly clear when allowing agencies to address major political and economic issues.

According to the Times, the ruling appears to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate the energy sector beyond controlling emissions at individual power plants. Unless Congress acts, it may also put an end to controls such as the cap-and-trade system.

The controversy stems from the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which was overturned by a federal appeals court on the last full day of his presidency. This rule would have relaxed restrictions on power plant greenhouse gas emissions.

The rule was based on a “fundamental misconstruction” of the relevant law, according to a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The decision concluded, “The E.P.A. has ample discretion in carrying out its mandate.” “However, it may not shirk its responsibility by imagining new limitations that the statute’s plain language does not require.”

The panel did not reinstate the 2015 Obama-era regulation known as the Clean Power Plan, which would have required utilities to shift away from coal and toward renewable energy while instructing states to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions, according to the Times. In 2016, the Supreme Court halted the plan while lawsuits from the coal industry and conservative states were heard.

According to the Times, the ruling also cleared the way for the Biden administration to impose stricter restrictions.

According to the New York Times, the Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday could go beyond environmental policy and limit power in other administrative agencies.

Previously, the court ruled that two federal agencies could not impose specific rules during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, could not impose an eviction moratorium, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could not require large employers to have their employees vaccinated or tested, according to the Times.

As the decision was announced, the president of the American Medical Association (AMA) reaffirmed the group’s support for policies aimed at achieving carbon neutrality in the United States by 2050.

“As physicians and medical leaders, we recognize the critical importance of supporting environmental sustainability efforts to help halt global climate change and the devastating health harms that it is certain to bring,” said Dr. Jack Resnick Jr. in a statement.

“Regardless of this ruling,” he added, “we will continue to do our part to protect public health and improve health outcomes for our patients across the country.”

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