The Supreme Court will consider an appeal that could block the Environmental Protection Agency from restricting greenhouse gas output from power plants, reports Bloomberg.
The court will hear from coal mining companies and Republican-led states that want to pare back the EPA's authority to curb emissions. Depending how the court rules, President Biden's administration could be prevented from enacting climate change measures working toward its pledge to reduce U.S. emissions in half by the end of this decade.
As Bloomberg writes, critics have argued the EPA has overstepped its bounds in establishing new rules around greenhouse gas emissions. Even so, the decision by the Supreme Court to hear the appeal came as a "big surprise," Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA assistant administrator, told Bloomberg. The ruling will have "massive consequences," predicted a West Virginia-led group of 18 states, and could force "dramatic changes" in the regulation and production of U.S. energy.
A ruling in favor of the mining companies would not only keep the EPA from regulating emissions, but would also block Congress from delegating that power to the agency, writes the University of Texas School of Law's Steve Vladeck. In the wake of the court's decision to take this case, energy reporter David Roberts predicted "SCOTUS [will] gut EPA authority" in several ways over the next few years. "It will radically constrain Biden's ability to reduce carbon," wrote Roberts, and "there's nothing he (or we) can do about it." In similarly dire terms, Reason's Jonathan Adler wrote: "Whichever way the Court goes, this will undoubtedly be the most important environmental law case on the Court's docket this term, and could well become one of the most significant environmental law cases of all time."
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the administration is "very optimistic that EPA does have the appropriate statutory authority to reduce CO2 emissions from coal plants." Read more at Bloomberg.