Supreme Court Significantly Reduces EPA’s Ability to Fight Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

Statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jun 30, 2022

Today, the Supreme Court issued a deeply concerning decision in West Virginia et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, a case focused on the scope of the EPA’s authority in regulating carbon emissions from power plants. Today’s ruling sharply limits the options available to EPA in setting standards that will reduce those emissions, hampering its efforts to address climate change.

Below is a statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“Today’s decision simultaneously acknowledges EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and severely undermines its ability to do so. This troubling ruling results in a challenging contradiction. The very agency that the court has recognized is tasked with the obligation to act has been significantly curtailed in so doing. It defies logic and defies common sense. And all the while communities are left in the lurch, clear-eyed on the escalating impacts that worsening climate change brings yet forced to stand by while a critical tool for driving necessary emissions reductions is hamstrung.

“EPA has no choice. It must make do with the authority it retains to quickly advance as robust a set of power plant standards as it can. However, climate action cannot stop there. Congress must expeditiously enact robust and equitable clean energy and climate legislation. As the mounting toll borne by communities across the country and around the world makes clear, climate change is here, today, and there’s no time left to waste.

“Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, today the Supreme Court made it harder for the EPA to do its job to protect us and future generations.”

UCS senior energy analyst Julie McNamara is available to discuss the implications of the court ruling and EPA’s regulatory options. Rachel Cleetus, UCS’ climate and energy program policy director, also is available to discuss the ruling’s implications, including related to the Paris Climate Agreement.

For information on how this and other recent court decisions have sidelined science, please see the blog “Science is clear: The US Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion, guns, and the environment will have devastating consequences” by Kristy Dahl, principal climate scientist at UCS.