Supreme Court agrees to consider EPA’s authority to limit greenhouse gases

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court said Friday it will consider whether one of the federal government’s plans to cut greenhouse gases is going too far.

The court agreed to accept an appeal from coal companies and energy-producing states, led by West Virginia, which says the Environmental Protection Agency was overstepping its authority to limit carbon emissions. They are appealing a lower court ruling that restored some of the EPA’s authority after the Trump administration reinstated it.

Congress has not given the EPA the authority the agency claims it has, which could include impossible carbon restrictions for power plants that burn coal and natural gas, lawsuits say. They say an EPA ruling could unduly restrict other sources of greenhouse gases.

“The power to regulate factories, hospitals, hotels, and even homes will have enormous costs and consequences for all Americans,” they told the Supreme Court.

The case includes a provision in the Clean Air Act that requires the EPA to determine the “best emissions reduction regime” for existing pollution sources and work with states to formulate pollution control plans.

The Biden administration urged the court not to hear the appeal. She said the Environmental Protection Agency is on the way to coming up with a new rule on carbon dioxide emissions. “As part of upcoming rulemaking, the EPA will take a fresh look at its scope of authority.”

The Supreme Court decision could complicate the administration’s efforts to enforce stricter emissions regulations as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change, by shifting electricity production away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources.

The court is likely to hear the case in the spring with the decision by late June.

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