In a major ruling on its last day of session, the U.S. Supreme Court said today the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to broadly regulate carbon emissions from power plants if it doesn’t have authority granted by Congress.
The decision in West Virginia v. EPA, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, passed 6-3, with only the Leftist members of the court dissenting.
Alaska joined the lawsuit with 18 other states on behalf of West Virginia.
The majority ruled that the Clean Air Act does not give the EPA the sweeping authority it has taken starting in the Obama Administration in requiring existing coal-fired power plants to either reduce their generation of electricity or subsidize the increased generation of natural gas, wind or solar energy.
Rather, the court ruled, this authority lies with Congress.
“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,'” Justice Roberts wrote. “But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.”
“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” he added.
Power the Future’s Alaska State Director Rick Whitbeck said the ruling was correct, in that the EPA cannot act in a way not expressly given to it by Congress.
“Today’s decision tells us what we already knew, that the Biden Administration is using executive powers to usurp congressional authority and doing so illegally,” Whitbeck said. “Now maybe they can get back to the business of restoring American energy independence and reversing the all-out attacks on America’s greatest industry.”
Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissenting opinion that was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
In the dissent, the three complained the court should not even have taken the case since the Biden Administration is getting ready to issue a new rule.
Kagan wrote that the majority’s decision “rests on one claim alone: that [power] generation shifting is just too new and too big a deal for Congress to have authorized it.” She added that the “stakes here are high.” Generation shifting is a shift in electricity production from higher-emitting to lower-emitting producers.