The Supreme Court, in a hearing Monday, appeared to support the Environmental Protection Agency's broad authority to set greenhouse gas emissions limits for cars, trucks and power plants.
The case, brought by power companies and 13 states including Texas and Michigan, argued that the EPA was overstepping its powers by using air quality rules to tackle climate change.
The justices didn’t seem inclined to overturn a 2007 decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, granting the agency the authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
David Doniger, the Climate and Clean Air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “Chief Justice Roberts made that clear early on, saying that even though he was a dissenter in 2007, the court isn’t going to reconsider Massachusetts, or the follow-on decision in American Electric Power v Connecticut, which establish EPA’s authority to set Clean Air Act standards for both vehicles and factories that emit carbon pollution that drives dangerous climate change.”
Supreme court experts expect a decision in the case, called Utility Air Regulatory Group v Environmental Protection Agency, may narrowly come down in favour of the EPA based on Monday’s arguments.
“As is so often the case when the Court is closely divided, the vote of Justice Anthony M Kennedy loomed as the critical one, and that vote seemed inclined toward the EPA,” said Lyle Denniston of Scotusblog.
Photo: Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Montana. (Matt Brown / AP)