US Supreme Court to Hear Climate Case as UN Issues Sharp Warning

Published on: 03 March 2022
by KnowESG

A Brief Summary

The US supreme court recently heard arguments on an environmental regulation case, which will have significant implications for the Biden administration's fight against climate change. The UN has issued a report that contains stark warnings over climate change.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has high stakes in the case to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants that generate 20 per cent of the electricity in the U.S.

A bench of nine justices heard the case, three liberal justices supported the concern of the EPA, but the conservative justices appeared sceptical.

"This agency is doing greenhouse gas regulation," said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of the liberal members of the court. "This is in, you know, exactly in its wheelhouse."

In 2007, the supreme court ruled that the EPA controls CO2 emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act of 1970.

The Obama administration, in 2015, came up with Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from coal and gas-burning plants and transforming energy production to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and tidal power. Former Republican President Donald Trump blocked the Clean Power Plan in the Supreme Court in 2016. He repealed the plan and replaced it with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule.

On the last day of Trump's administration, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down Trump's ACE rule, laying the way for the Supreme Court case West Virginia vs EPA.

The Supreme Court was urged to intervene and interpret the EPA's jurisdiction by West Virginia and six other coal-producing states. Opponents of strong government regulatory authority have also hailed the case.