Supreme Court limits EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions

June 23 at 11:29 AM

The Supreme Court on Monday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate power plant and factory emissions of gases blamed for global warming.

While the court said it was validating the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, the justices said the agency could not rewrite specific standards written into the law that govern which facilities can be regulated.

“EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case,” Justice Antonin Scalia said from the bench in announcing the decision. “It sought to regulate sources that it said were responsible for 86 percent of all the greenhouse gases emitted from stationary sources nationwide. Under our holdings, EPA will be able to regulate sources responsible for 83 percent of those emissions.”

The decision concerns rules separate from the EPA’s proposed more comprehensive plans released earlier this month to cut carbon emissions from existing plants by as much as 25 percent over 15 years.

The court’s decision Monday said that emissions of greenhouse gases alone are not enough to trigger EPA enforcement–that would sweep in too many small sources, such as schools, churches and shopping centers, Scalia said.

Instead, the court said, the agency can impose the greenhouse gases regulations on facilities that are already regulated under the EPA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration program under the Clean Air Act. That program requires the facilities to install the best available technology to control emissions from all regulated pollutants.