Thursday 30 June 2022 09:06 PM Biden tears into SCOTUS for limiting power the EPA has to regulate ... trends now

Thursday 30 June 2022 09:06 PM Biden tears into SCOTUS for limiting power the EPA has to regulate ... trends now
Thursday 30 June 2022 09:06 PM Biden tears into SCOTUS for limiting power the EPA has to regulate ... trends now

Thursday 30 June 2022 09:06 PM Biden tears into SCOTUS for limiting power the EPA has to regulate ... trends now

President Biden tore into the Supreme Court for taking 'our country backwards' after justices ruled in a 6 to 3 decision to restrain the federal government's ability to regulate emissions at power plants.

'The Supreme Court’s ruling in West Virginia v. EPA is another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards,' Biden said in a statement. 'While this decision risks damaging our nation’s ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis.' 

He said he had directed the Department of Justice and other agencies to 'find ways that we can, under federal law, continue protecting Americans from harmful pollution, including pollution that causes climate change.'

The case declares it unlawful for federal agencies to make 'major' decisions  without clear authorization from Congress. It appears to allow for regulations focused narrowly on capping pollution from smokestacks, but blocks wider rules that set state-by-state targets for emissions reduction or a cap-and-trade system that would trigger a faster shift to clean energy.

'Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible 'solution to the crisis of the day,' Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion for the court.

But he added that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to do so. 

'A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,' he wrote. 

The court's liberals, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

'Today, the court strips the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the power Congress gave it to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time,' Kagan wrote.

The ruling prevents the Biden administration from instituting the sort of sweeping emissions rules the EPA tried to implement under the Obama administration. The Supreme Court put Obama's Clean Power Plan on hold in 2016, and it never took effect.

The court sided with coal power plants and GOP-led states in West Virginia v. EPA, reviewing an appeals court decision to axe the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule, a Trump-era regulation that effectively gutted the Clean Power Plan.

Though the Clean Power Plan never took effect, the utility sector met its goals - a 32 percent reduction of carbon pollution from 2005 levels by 2030. The Biden administration had planned to write a fresh regulation and asked the Supreme Court to hold off on stepping in.

'No challenge poses a greater threat to our future than a changing climate. Every day, we’re feeling the impact of climate change, and today’s Supreme Court decision is a major step backward,' former President Obama said in a statement on the ruling, calling on Congress to pass Biden's clean energy and climate initiatives. 

The Supreme Court ruled in a 6 to 3 decision to restrain the federal government's ability to regulate emissions at power plants

The Supreme Court ruled in a 6 to 3 decision to restrain the federal government's ability to regulate emissions at power plants

The case declares it unlawful for federal agencies to make 'major' decisions without clear authorization from Congress

The case declares it unlawful for federal agencies to make 'major' decisions without clear authorization from Congress

What the Supreme Court's decision on West Virginia v. EPA means

The court's decision could cut back agency power through the so-called 'major questions' doctrine, ruling that agencies need express approval from Congress to make 'major' decisions' 

Agencies' authority to impose regulations on things like worker safety or internet 

The case said the EPA could narrowly regulate smokestack emissions, but not impose broader  

The move could force Biden to go through Congress to impose his ambitious climate agenda, where he will likely face gridlock state-by-state targets for emissions reduction 

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Instead of deciding on an existing rule, the Supreme Court set a precedent for Biden's future rule, which was  expected to fall in line with his goal for the entire U.S. power grid to run on clean energy by 2035. 

'It's a bad decision and an unnecessary one, but the EPA can still limit greenhouse gases at the source under Section 111 and more broadly through other Clean Air Act provisions. In the wake of this ruling, EPA must use its remaining authority to the fullest,' said Jason Rylander, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, in a statement.

The question of how much power the EPA has was based on Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which allows the agency power to set 'standards of performance' for air pollutants.  

In its decision Thursday, the court took made its most significant climate case since 2007, when justices ruled in Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gasses could be regulated as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Faced with deadlock in Congress, President Obama at the time sought to combat climate change by regulating power plants, the largest source of greenhouse gas behind the transportation industry.

The question before the justices was whether Congress must 'speak with particular clarity when it authorizes executive agencies to address major political and economic questions.' The court

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