The Supreme Court will hear oral argument on Monday in the case of West Virginia v. EPA. A coalition of 19 Republican-led states and coal industry interests contend that EPA’s authority should be limited under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions from the power sector. The decision by the conservative-leaning court to consider an argument about a hypothetical regulation that EPA has not even proposed is an ominous sign according to onlookers.
“It’s unusual for the [S]upreme [C]ourt to hear a case where there is no active rule to challenge,” explained Richard Revesz, an environmental law professor at the New York University School of Law. “In normal times, when the court wasn’t so skeptical of regulation, this case would’ve been dismissed. It would have . . . pernicious consequences if it were allowed because it could severely restrict agencies’ ability to regulate and these power stations are such big emitters.”
A favorable Supreme Court decision could significantly undermine the authority of the Biden administration—and future administrations—to limit greenhouse gas emissions and abate an intensifying climate crisis. Notably, the oral argument falls on the same day as the release of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II report on adaptation and impacts on the world. (Reuters, Guardian, Independent, ClimateWire $, Washington Post $)