By: Catherine Gavin, Staff Member
The Supreme Court took away some of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power on Monday June 23, 2014. In an opinion written by Justice Scalia in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Court took away some of the EPA’s power to impose harsher emission standards.
However, the Court simultaneously protected a majority of the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases.
The 5-4 decision was handed down with Justice Scalia writing for the majority. Justice Thomas and Justice Alito joined the opinion in Part I, II-A, II-B-1.
Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Sotomayor, and Justice Kagan joined Part II-B-2.
Justice Sotomayer, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Kagan joined in Justice Breyer’s concurring in part and dissenting in part opinion.
Finally, Justice Alito penned an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, to which Justice Thomas joined.
The EPA interpreted the Clean Air Act to mandate that stationary sources of pollution would require a Title V permit, as well as, to comply with “best available control technology” for greenhouse gases.
The Court upheld the EPA’s act of requiring facilities to address the issue of pollutants when expanding.
However, the ruling does not extend to smaller pollutant emitters such as apartments, schools, and restaurants.
David Doniger who is the top climate lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council said “[t]he most important message from this case is that the Supreme Court stands behind its prior decisions that the EPS has the authority and responsibility to” address climate change.
This decision is one in the line of many that the Court has deferred to the EPA and allowed the EPA to interpret complex statutory language.
As Scalia stated “the EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case”.
Court slows EPA on emissions, but largely backs its rules
(Mon June 23, 2014 2:34 PM),
Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency,
(last visited July 7, 2014).
Mark Drejem and Greg Stohr,
EPA’s Winning Streak Extended High Court Backs Greenhouse Permits
(June 24, 2014 (12:52PM),