Supreme Court Deals Severe Blow to EPA

Limits agency’s ability to regulate climate-damaging emissions

smoke stack emissions

June 30, 2022 (BOSTON, MA) – The Supreme Court has handed down a decision that will significantly limit the federal government’s power to regulate pollution from power plants and other industrial sources. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement in response. 

“The Supreme Court’s new majority has hobbled EPA’s ability to reduce pollution from power plants, expanding an obscure doctrine into an all-purpose tool for the Court to stop agencies from acting on the most significant threats to human health and the environment,” said CLF President Bradley Campbell.  “By arbitrarily limiting EPA’s explicit and broad authority under the Clean Air Act to require the use of less polluting systems, the Court has consigned millions of Americans to more illness, shorter lives, and greater poverty in an overheated climate, while giving itself nearly unlimited authority to invalidate protections and safeguards intended by Congress.”  

The decision in the West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency case will strip the federal government of one of its most important tools to address the climate crisis – the ability to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to require fossil fuel plants to shift electricity generation to less polluting technology, such as solar and wind.  This latest salvo in the new Court majority’s attack on Congress’ use of administrative agencies to protect the public means that state and local action will be critical in addressing the climate crisis. 

The case has been pushed forward by interest groups aligned with fossil fuel companies and other polluting industries in an attempt to escape climate regulations. CLF joined the appeal of this case to the Supreme Court, and has partnered with Clean Air Task Force on those efforts.  

CLF experts are available for further comment.