The U.S. Supreme Court has limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority over existing power plants.
In a 6-3 ruling on Thursday, the Supreme Court said that Congress has the power to set standards on climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, and not the EPA.
The decision is a major setback for the Biden administration’s agenda on the environment, who wants the U.S. power sector decarbonized by 2035.
Invoking the so-called “major questions” doctrine, the ruling will limit the federal government’s authority on controlling planet-warming pollutants under the landmark Clean Air Act.
The court’s six conservatives were in the majority in the decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts.
“It is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.” Roberts wrote. “Under our precedents, this is a major questions case. There is little reason to think Congress assigned such decisions to the Agency.”
Senate Majority Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer lamented the decision. “Today’s decision adds to a number of dangerously outrageous decisions that have rightly tarnished the public’s confidence in the Court,” he wrote.
The power sector’s emissions represent about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gases.