Supreme Court to Review Ruling Nixing Trump Power Plant Climate Rollback

November 9, 2021

The Supreme Court said on Oct. 29 that it will review what tools the Environmental Protection Agency can use to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants., according to The Hill.

The petitions it granted Friday, Oct. 29 pertained to a case in which a court nixed the Trump administration’s rollbacks of Obama-era power plant rules.

The court agreed to look at that case and consider questions about whether to limit the scope of the EPA’s regulations over these pollution sources.

Specifically, the petitions from coal companies and Republican states ask the court to look into whether the agency can make rules that apply to entire categories of polluters and whether it can do so using “industry-wide systems” like cap and trade, which seeks to put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

The court will also evaluate whether the agency can decide matters of “vast economic and political significance” like whether and how to restructure the country’s energy system.

Environmental advocates said that if the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the petitioners, it could worsen climate change

“The coal industry is urging the Supreme Court to limit the solutions EPA can rely on in protecting the American people from power plant climate pollution,” Vickie Patton, general counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund, told The Hill.

In 2016, the Obama administration set the first limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

That rule was stayed by the Supreme Court, and ultimately never went into effect.

In striking down the Trump-era rule, which repealed the Obama regulations, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Clean Air Act authorizes the agency to regulate power plant emissions of greenhouse gases.

In a statement on the high court’s decision, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who led the states’ petition, said that it “granted [the] EPA too much authority.”

“Our team is eager to present West Virginia’s case as to why the Supreme Court should define the reach of EPA’s authority once and for all,” he said.

In a tweet, EPA administrator Michael Regan indicated that the agency would continue to work on regulating pollution in the meantime.

“After the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the ACE Rule, EPA got to work and will continue to advance new standards to ensure that all Americans are protected from the power plant pollution that harms public health and our economy,” Regan wrote.