What the Supreme Court Left Standing
No, the Court didn’t eliminate EPA’s ability to fight climate change.
The Supreme Court’s ruling within the West Virginia case left many individuals with the impression that it eliminated the federal government’s power to control carbon emissions. There are quite various areas of climate law that the Supreme Court has left untouched.
Here’s the EPA authority the Court hasn’t touched:
EPA’s jurisdiction over greenhouse gases. There was some worry that the Court might overrule Massachusetts v. EPA, which gave EPA authority to control greenhouses gases. Just a few Justices have raised that issue up to now, but they now appear to have given up. And notably, the incontrovertible fact that the West Virginia case was about climate regulation was NOT amongst the explanations for invoking the dreaded “Major Questions Doctrine.”
The endangerment finding. So as to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs), EPA first needed to make an official finding that their emissions threaten public health and welfare. The Supreme Court declined to review this issue at the identical time it agreed to review one other a part of the identical package of rules.
Carbon emissions standards for brand new vehicles. The Supreme Court declined to review this at the identical time it agreed to review one other a part of the identical package of rules. Transportation is now the largest source of carbon emissions, so it is a really essential field of regulations.
Permit requirements for brand new plants. Under are what are called the PSD rules (don’t ask!), EPA gets to review permits for major latest sources of emissions. The Supreme upheld the inclusion of greenhouse gases in these reviews, though it said that GHG emissions weren’t an independent ground for requiring a permit.
EPA authority to control power plant emissions. Yes, the Supreme Court did strike down Obama’s Clean Power Plan. But it surely didn’t query EPA’s authority to tackle the issue, and it left other tools on the table.
As well as, there are two other areas of climate law not involving EPA, where the lower courts have decided multiple cases with none interference from the Supreme Court:
Environmental Impact Statements. Lower courts have consistently held that environmental impact statements have to contemplate the carbon emissions that might result from a call like issuing latest coal or oil leases on federal land, setting fuel efficiency standards, or authorizing latest gas pipelines. To date, the Justices have shown zero interest in reviewing these.
Endangered Species. Lower courts have upheld decisions to categorise species as endangered or threatened as a result of climate change. Again, zero interest from the Justices.
Briefly, federal climate law appears to be alive and fairly healthy. Rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated.