May 14, 2014
On 29 April 2014, in a major victory for the Obama administration, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate the smog from coal plants that drifts across state lines from 28 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast according to a New York Times report.
Legal experts said the decision, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, signals that the Obama administration’s efforts to use the Clean Air Act to fight global warming could withstand legal challenges.
In June, the EPA is expected to propose a regulation to cut emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from new power plants. CO2 is the heat-trapping greenhouse gas that scientists say is the chief cause of climate change. Power plants that are fueled with coal are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
The 6-to-2 ruling bolsters the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda: a series of new regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants. Republicans and the coal industry have criticized the regulations, which use the Clean Air Act as their legal authority, as a “war on coal.” The industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules.
“It’s a big win for the EPA, and not just because it has to do with this rule,” said Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard. “It’s the fact that it’s setting the stage and creating momentum for what’s to come.”
If the Supreme Court had decided against the Obama administration in Tuesday’s decision, Ms. Freeman said, “it would have been a shot across the bow to the EPA as it takes the next steps” toward putting out the climate change regulations.
What this means to you
Legal experts say this ruling signals the Obama administration’s efforts to use the Clean Air Act to fight global warming could withstand legal challenges. In June the EPA is expected to propose regulations to cut CO2 emissions by focusing on energy efficiency based on the emissions of CO2 per unit of energy produced.
MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH to discuss your operation’s present – and future – emission compliance options.