Supreme Court Clears Way for Power Plant Climate Pollution Standards

The Supreme Court cleared the path for EPA to move forward with updates to clean air standards that place meaningful limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source of climate-disrupting carbon emissions in the United States.  The Supreme Court declined to revisit its landmark decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, or review a lower court decision upholding the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

Smoke stacks and exhaust. Flickr photo by Dave Sizer
Smoke stacks and exhaust. Flickr photo by Dave Sizer.
While rejecting the main thrust of industry’s challenge, the Supreme Court did grant narrow review over the question of whether permitting requirements for stationary sources were triggered by EPA’s determination to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

It also declined to review a challenge to the Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

With the issue of the endangerment finding now settled, the way is now clear for EPA to move ahead—as it had been doing until it was interrupted by the on-going government shutdown—in establishing performance standards for new and existing power plants under the Clean Air Act.

These standards are a key piece of the President’s plan to reduce carbon pollution and put a halt to climate change.  EPA should continue to move ahead with these standards and other aspects of the President’s plan aimed at ensuring our children do not inherit a climate crisis of our making.

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Published: October 15, 2013