On June 23, 2014, the U. S. Supreme Court handed down a “hybrid” decision, partially favoring the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations and partially favoring the industries/states challenging those regulations.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers a “Prevention of Serious Deterioration” (PSD) program requiring a new or modified major polluting facility to get a permit for new construction if it gives off “any air pollutant” and facility operators must show they are using the best available technology to reduce emissions of pollutants regulated by the program. To date, 300+ facilities have applied for the required permits. Industry and some conservative states challenged the program’s authority to regulate pollution sources for greenhouse gasses. However, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the EPA.
In that same case, industry and some conservative states also challenged the EPA’s authority to change the emissions threshold, thus allowing it to regulate a greater number of polluting facilities. According to the program’s challengers, the EPA overreached into authority reserved for Congress. The Supreme Courted sided with the challengers in that instance, ruling 5-4 that some facilities targeted by the EPA are exempt.
One of the EPA’s challengers, the American Chemistry Council, stated that the EPA sought to control 86% of greenhouse gas emissions but the Supreme Court’s decision would still allow regulation of 83% of those emissions. Consequently, the ruling is largely deemed a victory for the EPA.
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