The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday dealt a massive blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to clamp down on American industries through its climate change agenda.
The court ruled by a decision of 6-3 that Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the authority to pass sweeping regulations on major industries without additional congressional approval.
The EPA, which is an arm of the executive branch, previously had carte blanche to dictate to entire industries on how they are allowed to operate, effectively giving unelected government officials the ability to shut down the oil industry over carbon emissions.
“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,’ but it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme in Section 111(d),” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the Court's opinion, referencing Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, Fox Business reported.
“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.”
Fox Business explains:
The case stemmed from the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Power Plan which aimed to reduce carbon emissions at power plants by pushing a shift from coal, to natural gas, and ultimately to wind and solar energy. The plan was put on hold by the Supreme Court in 2016, and then repealed by the Trump administration and replaced by the less extreme Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule.
After President Biden took office, the ACE Rule became the subject of litigation that led to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacating that rule as well as the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. The Biden EPA, however, has stated that it will not reinstate the Clean Power Plan, opting instead to develop and implement its own plan.
The question of how much power the EPA has was based on a provision in Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which grants the EPA power to set "standards of performance" for existing sources of air pollutants as long as they take into account cost, energy requirements, and non-air health and environmental impacts.
"Under our precedents, this is a major questions case," the Supreme Court said in its majority opinion," stating that the EPA is arguing that the existing law "empowers it to substantially restructure the American energy market[.]" The Court noted that the EPA derived this "newfound power" from "the vague language of an ‘ancillary provision’" that "had rarely been used in the preceding decades."
As detailed by the publication, the EPA under former President Donald Trump repealed the Clean Power Plan, and adopted the position that Section 111 only allowed the agency to determine measures to be implemented at the physical power plants themselves and not for the industry as a whole.
Likewise, several U.S. states including West Virginia argue that Section 111 does not provide the EPA with the authority to make rules that would completely overhaul electrical grids or force industries to abide by the agency's carbon emissions policies.