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Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Cases to Restrict the Power of EPA
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On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court decided to accept six separate petitions seeking to restrict the clout of the Environmental Protection Agency over carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The decision of the Supreme Court to hear the greenhouse gas cases deals a blow against the Obama administration and environmentalists and brings under scrutiny the 2012 ruling of the DC Court of Appeals that affirmed the EPA’s final authority in the matter.

The Supreme Court already has one case dealing with air pollution on the docket, so it can be expected that the new cases, brought by Texas, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and several energy producers would be consolidated into one. This would make environmental regulation a major topic for the Supreme Court and the decisions would affect both the EPA’s authority and climate change initiatives.


The issue accepted by the Supreme Court boils down to the question as to whether the EPA’s authority to regulate motor vehicle emissions also empowers them to regulate the emissions from stationery sources like power plants. However, the cases before the Supreme Court also question the EPA’s broad authority in regulating the emission of greenhouse gases under all conceivable conditions.

Greenhouse gas emission has been a bone of contention in the Congress and while one side believes that greenhouse gases directly affect climate change, the other side is not ready to believe such an assertion. Broad greenhouse gas regulations have been blocked at the Senate, once when the Clinton administration signed the Kyoto protocol, and later in 2010 when the Obama administration attempted to set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2007, the US Supreme Court had confirmed the authority of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, but later in 2011 that regulatory power was cited to protect industries from private lawsuits that sought damages for losses arising from such emissions.

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