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Air QualityThe Automobile Rule and the Major Questions Doctrine

The Automobile Rule and the Major Questions Doctrine

The Automobile Rule and the Major Questions Doctrine

Claims that the brand new rule violates the doctrine are groundless.

Ever for the reason that Supreme Court decided West Virginia v. EPA, conservatives and industry interests have claimed that virtually every latest regulation violates the key query doctrine. When the Biden Administration ramped up fuel efficiency requirements through 2026, ideologues equivalent to the Heartland Institute and states like Texas were quick to wheel out this attack. Little question the identical attack shall be made on the Administration ambitious proposed post-2026 standard. Perhaps Judge Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, crusader against abortion pills and all things liberal, would buy that argument. But opponents won’t give you the option to handpick their judge this time, and the probabilities that this argument will win within the D.C. Circuit are slim to none.

The Heritage Foundation’s argument against the 2022 rule reads the West Virginia case very broadly: “Under West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court said for agencies to alter policy so drastically, as Obama desired to do to force power plants to alter to renewable fuels, they will need to have clear direction from Congress.” But, Heartland said, “No such clarity will be found here. And this case is much more influential. The regulations coming out of the EPA and the Transportation Department are the costliest in U.S. history. They’re designed to remake, not to manage, our energy systems.” Texas piled on with its own major questions arguments, claiming that the rule was a significant query since it could affect grid reliability due to the additional electricity demand and national security due to the need for imported batteries and materials for electric vehicles.

These arguments pay scant heed to what the Court actually said in West Virginia v. EPA when it struck down Obama’s Clean Power Plan for the electricity sector.  The resemblance between the case is that each involve shifts from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources — from coal to natural gas and renewables in West Virginia, and gas/diesel to electric vehicles in the brand new regulation. However the resemblance ends there.

In West Virginia, the Court stressed that EPA had used an obscure, seldom used provision of the Clean Air Act to adopt an unprecedented regulation. Here, the availability is the core of a complete Title of the statute and has been used again and again, including past efforts to encourage electric vehicles. In West Virginia, the Court also stressed that EPA had adopted the regulation only after Congress had rejected similar legislative efforts. Here, EPA is acting within the aftermath of major Congressional efforts involving billions of dollars investment in charging stations, EV and battery manufacturing, and tax credits for EV buyers. Congress addressed the national security issue raised by Texas with incentives for American producers, and the grid reliability issue with provisions to encourage latest transmission lines. In other words, EPA and Congress are moving in synchrony moderately than at cross-purposes.

Within the 2022 case, Heartland also attacked EPA on the bottom that it was acting alone, moderately than working with the Department of Transportation to issue fuel economy standards. DOT isn’t allowed to think about EVs in setting fuel efficiency standards. The Supreme Court has suggested that EPA and DOT coordinate on these issues, and EPA did seek the advice of DOT before proposing the brand new regulations.  However the Court didn’t say that the 2 agencies need to issue the identical rules jointly. And even other than climate change, EVs have the advantage of reducing smog and other air pollution. That’s why EPA authorized California to mandate some sales of  zero emission vehicles as early as 1993, before the Supreme Court had even given EPA authority to manage greenhouse gases. Vehicle emissions are EPA’s business, not DOT’s, and restrictions on DOT’s efforts to save lots of oil don’t have any bearing on EPA.

Yes, the proposed latest automobile regulations are a giant deal. So are many latest regulations (and for that matter, many deregulatory actions). But that doesn’t subject them to the strictures of the key questions doctrine.





air pollution, Clean Air Act, Climate Policy, electric vehicles, EPA tailpipe rules, EVs, major query doctrine, Supreme Court


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