Supreme Court Curbs EPA's Authority Over Power Plant Emissions
As ruling was announced, the president of the AMA reaffirmed the group's support for policies that reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions
THURSDAY, June 30, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- In a ruling that will curb efforts to fight climate change, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. The 6-3 decision comes as scientists are warning about the growing threat posed by global warming. It could potentially extend to other actions taken by administrative agencies, The New York Times reported.
As with several recent high court rulings, the ruling came with the three liberal justices dissenting. They said the decision strips the EPA of "the power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time."
In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the court had substituted its own policy judgment for that of Congress. "Whatever else this court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change," she wrote. "And let's say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants' carbon dioxide emissions."
The case -- West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 20-1530 -- asked justices to decide whether the Clean Air Act allowed the EPA to issue sweeping regulations across the power sector and whether Congress must speak with particular clarity when it allows agencies to address major political and economic questions.
The Times said it appears the ruling would limit the EPA's ability to regulate the energy sector beyond controlling emissions at individual power plants. It may also put an end to controls such as the cap-and-trade system, unless Congress acts.
As the ruling was announced, the president of the American Medical Association reaffirmed the group's support for policies that reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions aimed at carbon neutrality by 2050.
"As physicians and leaders in medicine, we recognize the urgency of supporting environmental sustainability efforts to help halt global climate change and the devastating health harms that it is sure to bring," Jack Resnick Jr., M.D., said in a statement. "Despite this ruling, we will continue to do our part to protect public health and improve health outcomes for our patients across the nation."