In a blow to the fight against climate change, the Supreme Court has limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
By a 6-3 vote Thursday, with conservatives in the majority, the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming.
Instead, the EPA is limited to plant-by-plant regulation, the high court said. The court’s ruling could complicate the administration’s plans to combat climate change.
The case overturned a lower court ruling that allowed the rule to stand.
The ruling could curtail the ability of federal agencies to enact regulations on companies.
The Clean Power Plan was first proposed by the Obama administration but never put into action as GOP-led states sued the administration to block it from going into effect. The plan was then repealed by the Trump administration, but the Biden administration wanted the undo President Donald Trump's repeal.
Biden decried the Supreme Court decision.
"The Supreme Court’s ruling in West Virginia vs. EPA is another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards. While this decision risks damaging our nation’s ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis," Biden said. "I have directed my legal team to work with the Department of Justice and affected agencies to review this decision carefully and find ways that we can, under federal law, continue protecting Americans from harmful pollution, including pollution that causes climate change."