Supreme Court deals blow to Biden EPA’s ozone emissions scheme

By Around the Web

(Image by jplenio from Pixabay)

By Nick Pope
Daily Caller News Foundation

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to limit ozone pollution that drifts across state lines on Thursday.

The court ruled to temporarily block the EPA’s “good neighbor” rule for ozone, which the agency originally intended to impose on 23 states via complex regulatory processes. The stay will remain in place as litigation over the rule plays out in lower courts.

The court decided to block the rule by a 5-4 vote, with Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Elana Kagan dissenting. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the court’s opinion, and was joined in the majority by Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

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While the policy was originally slated to apply to 23 states, legal challenges effectively cut that number down to 11 states. Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia — the three states challenging the EPA in the case — argued that the EPA’s plans, if executed, would impose billions of dollars of costs and undermine power grid reliability by effectively mandating the closure of certain fossil fuel-power generation facilities, according to Bloomberg News.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has defended the rule on the grounds that it is a key tool for reducing air pollution and improving health outcomes for people who live in ozone pollution’s downwind path, according to Bloomberg. The rule was supposed to take effect in August 2023.

Barrett wrote the dissenting opinion for the ruling.

“The Court today enjoins the enforcement of a major Environmental Protection Agency rule based on an underdeveloped theory that is unlikely to succeed on the merits. In so doing, the Court grants emergency relief in a fact-intensive and highly technical case without fully engaging with both the relevant law and the voluminous record,” she wrote in the dissenting opinion. “While the Court suggests that the EPA failed to explain itself sufficiently in response to comments, this theory must surmount sizable procedural obstacles and contrary record evidence. Applicants therefore cannot satisfy the stringent conditions for relief in this posture.”

Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has asserted that the agency “ignored obvious problems with its attempt to twist the Clean Air Act into a system of top-down regulation instead of the system of cooperative federalism that Congress intended” in a previous court filing.

The EPA has previously attempted to use the Clean Air Act as the predicate for major regulations, such as the agency’s so-called 2015 “Clean Power Plan,” which the Supreme Court shot down with its 2022 ruling in West Virginia v. EPA. More recently, the agency finalized a set of rules targeting power plants on the basis of the Clean Air Act, regulations that critics have characterized as a de facto end-run around the West Virginia v. EPA ruling; those regulations are also subject to ongoing litigation.

One of the key issues in the case is whether the agency sufficiently determined that its federal compliance plan still made sense, even if applied to a smaller number of states than originally intended, according to Bloomberg. The EPA is aiming to impose its federal compliance plan for the ozone “good neighbor” rule on the relevant states after it first rejected state-level plans.

“The EPA is disappointed in today’s ruling, which will postpone the benefits that the Good Neighbor Plan is already achieving in many states and communities. The Agency believes that the Good Neighbor Plan is firmly grounded in its Clean Air Act authority and looks forward to defending the merits of this vital public health protection before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” an EPA spokesperson said in a statement shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The Good Neighbor Plan is essential to ensure that states satisfy their responsibility under the Clean Air Act to address pollution that significantly contributes to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone, or smog, in other states.”

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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