Supreme Court Constrains EPA Authority to Reduce Climate Pollution from Existing Power Plants

EDF, Others Call for Immediate Action on Climate

June 30, 2022

(Washington, D.C. – June 30, 2022) The Supreme Court sided with the coal industry and its state allies today in an opinion that constrains EPA’s authority to limit climate pollution from existing power plants. U.S. coal and gas-fired power plants are one of the largest sources of climate-destabilizing pollution in the world.

Today’s ruling recognizes EPA’s authority and responsibility to address climate pollution under the Clean Air Act including EPA’s responsibility to limit climate pollution from fossil fuel power plants, cars and trucks, oil and gas development, and industrial sites.

While the Supreme Court recognized EPA's authority to address pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants under the Clean Air Act, it constrains EPA’s authority to rely on clean energy solutions the power industry itself identified as the most common, proven and cost-effective.


"Today's Supreme Court ruling undermines EPA's authority to protect people from smokestack climate pollution at a time when all evidence shows we must take action with great urgency," said Vickie Patton, General Counsel for Environmental Defense Fund, which was a party to the case. “This is judicial overreach. Today’s ruling was made even though there are no national pollution standards in effect right now for existing power plants. Yet the Court still reached out to rule on an abstract question – and weakened EPA’s authority.”

“Climate disasters are growing more frequent, more deadly, and more costly every year,” said Patton. “We have clean solutions that will help protect people from the damages of climate change while also creating economic opportunities and jobs. Today’s Supreme Court ruling should be a clarion call for President Biden, EPA Administrator Regan, and Members of Congress that we need swift action to address the climate crisis. We need Americans to register to vote and demand climate leadership. All of us must do more to protect people from the clear and present danger of climate change.”


Today’s 6-to-3 ruling is in West Virginia v. EPA [No. 20-1530]. EDF is part of a coalition of health and environmental groups that defended EPA’s authority and responsibility to address climate pollution from power plants. Two dozen states and cities, leading businesses, and numerous power companies that serve millions of customers in states across the country – and would be the regulated parties if any standards were in effect – also supported EPA’s authority in the case. You can find all the briefs filed in the case here.

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