By Rosaly Byrd-
After a push by industry leaders and conservative states, on Tuesday the Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, specifically pre-construction permits for power plants. Considering the various challenges the opposition brought forward to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, accepting to only examine the issue of power plant permits is a success.
The opposition brought many petitions to the Supreme Court including the reexamination of the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health, as well as challenging the agency’s authority to implement standards for motor vehicles and power plants. But in a merited victory, the Supreme Court upheld the EPA’s ruling of greenhouse gases being hazardous and therefore categorized as a pollutant by the Clean Air Act (as was established in Massachusetts vs. EPA in 2007) and also denied petitions against the agency’s authority to regulate GHG emissions through motor vehicle standards. By upholding this decision, the Supreme Court gave the EPA the green light to continue regulating carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases as is stated in the Clean Air Act. As the Sierra Club acknowledged, the Supreme Court’s decision means that now “the President and the EPA have not just the authority, but the responsibility to move forward with bold measures to protect American families from the increasing threat of climate disruption”, as required by the Clean Air Act.
Although the Supreme Court denied petitions regarding the EPA’s authority to implement motor vehicle standards, it did accept to examine the petitions against pre-construction permits for power plants. Even so, many environmental organizations are optimistic because regulations for already established power plants will be unscathed and unaffected by any ruling by the Supreme Court on this narrow case.