Supreme Court narrows EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions


Via: Pexels

Grace Smith | July 1, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) does not have the authority to administer expansive regulations on pollution from power plants. The ruling in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency puts a strain on President Joe Biden’s efforts to manage climate change. 

The Clean Air Act of 1970, a plan put in place to govern greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, was brought up in the case. But, because of lawsuits and other issues, the program stalled in 2016. So, the Biden Administration attempted to dismiss the case because there were no plans in place from the E.P.A. that would govern the power plant, but the argument didn’t work. 

The U.S. is the second world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter as of 2021, accounting for around 11 percent of the world’s total emissions. In 2020, the electricity sector, or the energy industry, was the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 25%, in the U.S., behind transportation. 

The E.P.A. doesn’t have the power it would have held, but not all their leadership is stripped. The E.P.A. can still regulate power plants, but it can’t do the necessary amount of cutting and shutting down to reduce the critical amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

Because of the new ruling, Biden’s promise to the world that the U.S. would cut greenhouse gas emissions in half from 2005 levels by 2030 has become a more challenging goal to achieve. Coral Davenport, a New York Times energy and environmental policy reporter, said for Biden to achieve this, new legislation and stricter regulations on all sectors of pollution need to be put in place.

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