USA: Supreme Court to hear case to limit EPA’s authority over coal plants, greenhouse emissions

West Virginia and other energy-producing states and coal companies are bringing case before high court.

The Supreme Court on Monday will hear arguments in a major environmental case that will decide how much authority the Environmental Protection Agency has to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and poses a major challenge to President Biden’s climate change initiative. West Virginia and other energy-producing states and coal companies are asking the high court to rule that the EPA does not have the wide-ranging authority to shift the nation’s energy production from coal-burning power plants toward alternative solar and wind power, according to NBC News. They also argue such policy can be set only by Congress.

The plaintiffs are not challenging a specific rule now in effect. They are instead contesting a federal appeals court ruling – which dates back to the Obama administration – that states the EPA could issue the type of regulations the challengers oppose. If the rules return, the EPA could “name itself the country’s central energy planning authority by reshaping the power grids and seizing control over electricity production nationwide,” the plaintiffs argue.

The EPA under the Obama administration issued a plan to reduce carbon-dioxide pollution from power plants by allowing their operators to get credit for generating more power from alternative energy sources, NBC News also reports.

The coalition of states and coal companies sued, arguing the Clean Air Act gave the government authority only to restrict pollution from specific power plants, not to require power companies to shift to alternative methods of generation.

The high court blocked enforcement of the rule. And the EPA, under the Trump administration, proposed standards that would regulate only emissions from power plants.

Then a federal appeals court on Trump’s final day in office, struck down his revised rule. So right now, no EPA restriction applies to carbon pollution from existing power plants. But the appeals court ruling left the door open for the Biden administration to resurrect the EPA’s earlier approach, involving a shift to cleaner sources, also according to NBC.