US top court limits federal gov’t power to curb plant emissions

by | Jun 30, 2022 | World

In a blow to the fight against climate change, the US Supreme Court has limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.By a six-to-three decision on Thursday, with conservatives in the majority, the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming.
The court’s ruling could complicate the administration’s plans to combat climate change. Its proposal to regulate power plant emissions is expected by the end of the year.
President Joe Biden has aimed to cut the US’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade and to have an emissions-free power sector by 2035. Power plants account for roughly 30 percent of carbon dioxide output.
The justices heard arguments in the case on the same day that a United Nations panel’s report warned that the effects of climate change are about to get much worse, likely making the world sicker, hungrier, poorer and more dangerous in the coming years.
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The power plant case has a long and complicated history that began with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. That plan would have required states to reduce emissions from the generation of electricity, mainly by shifting away from coal-fired plants.
But that scheme never took effect. Acting in a lawsuit filed by West Virginia and others, the Supreme Court blocked it in 2016 by a five-to-four vote, with conservatives in the majority.
With the plan on hold, the legal fight continued. But after President Donald Trump took office, the EPA repealed the Obama-era plan. The agency argued that its authority to reduce …

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