WASHINGTON—Today, the Supreme Court rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) sweeping claim of authority under the Clean Air Act to effectively reshape the national electricity grid without any clear authority from Congress. West Virginia v. EPA is the most consequential environmental case taken up by the Supreme Court this term, with broader implications for restoring constitutional separation of powers.
Reliable, affordable energy is critical to Americans’ wellbeing, way of life, and productivity. Today’s decision will better protect consumers and states from costly bureaucratic over-reach through regulatory proposals like the Clean Power Plan. It also sends a powerful message to all regulatory agencies, checking the runaway administration state and restoring the role of Congress to address major policy questions.
Derrick Morgan, executive vice president of The Heritage Foundation, released the following statement on the ruling:
“Today, the Supreme Court has taken a major step to restore representative government and require legislators, not bureaucrats, to make the major policy decisions affecting the lives of Americans. The importance of this decision cannot be overstated.
“Further, the court has put to rest a serious threat to reliable, affordable electricity for Americans by blocking the EPA’s Clean Power Plan or another expansive regulation like it. The court’s decision comes at a time when the Biden administration is doing everything it can to force an overhaul of the energy sector and the economy through a radical regulatory agenda—devastating the finances of millions of Americans in the process.
“In light of this decision, Heritage is calling on every conservative in Congress to rein in an EPA that has lost its mooring and protect Americans from even more overreach. Today’s opinion is a win for proper statutory interpretation, separation of powers, and common sense.”
BACKGROUND: In 2016, the Supreme Court made the rare decision to stay implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, signaling then that enough justices saw serious legal problems with the rule and that its implementation would cause irreparable harm. Years of litigation led to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals holding that the EPA had nearly limitless scope under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court helps to define the constitutional limits of the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. Nearly 60% of Americans’ electricity today comes from natural gas and coal power plants, which emit greenhouse gases.