Supreme Court takes up four cases challenging rule making authority of EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ought to be completely abolished, but while that is highly unlikely to happen, its claimed broad authority to impose stringent regulations impacting entire swathes of society could soon be substantially limited.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up four separate but related legal challenges to the EPA’s rulemaking authorities brought by a collection of Republican-led states and coal mining companies, the Washington Examiner reported.

The court consolidated together four different cases that all questioned the authority of the EPA to promulgate and impose strict “performance standards” nationwide related to greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA challenged

According to SCOTUSblog, the four consolidated cases all stem from a ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that had struck down a Trump administration policy that had repealed the strict Obama-era Clean Power Plan regulating carbon dioxide emissions and replaced it with the far-less restrictive Affordable Clean Energy Rule.

The challengers in these cases have argued that the EPA has misinterpreted a little-known statutory provision to claim for itself broad rulemaking authority that was never actually delegated to the agency by Congress.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has argued that there is no real need for the high court to intervene at this point since the EPA had no plans to resurrect the previously repealed Obama-era Clean Power Plan and was instead currently working up a new rule that could then be subject to judicial review once it had actually been issued.

The lead case on this issue is West Virginia v. EPA, in which that state was joined by 18 other Republican-led states. The other cases to be argued along with it include North Dakota v. EPA, North American Coal Company v. EPA, and Westmoreland Mining Holdings v. EPA.

“Tremendous victory”

“This is a tremendous victory for West Virginia and our nation,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) said in a statement of the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the appeal, according to West Virginia’s Metro News.

“We are extremely grateful for the Supreme Court’s willingness to hear our case. It indicates a significant portion of the court realizes the seriousness of this case and shares our concern that the D.C. Circuit granted EPA too much authority,” he continued.

The state attorney general later added, “Given the insurmountable costs of President Biden’s proposals, our team is eager to present West Virginia’s case as to why the Supreme Court should define the reach of EPA’s authority once and for all.”

Morrisey’s praise of the court was echoed by Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who stressed how crucial it was that the court rein in an agency that had exceeded its congressionally authorized authority.

“This is an important case to demonstrate that elected representatives, not administrative agencies, are responsible for making our nation’s laws,” the senator said, according to Metro News. “I commend the justices for agreeing to take this important case and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for bringing this matter to our nation’s highest court.”

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