Supreme Court strikes down EPA's "good neighbor" rule on emissions

 June 28, 2024

The Biden administration suffered a legal setback this week when the Supreme Court struck down a major Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule. 

According to Fox News, the case concerns something called the "good neighbor rule," under which the EPA restricts smokestack emissions from power plants and other industrial sources that float into neighboring states.

"The government sought to impose a single, uniform federal plan"

"The Clean Air Act envisions States and the federal government working together to improve air quality. Under that law's terms, States bear primary responsibility for developing plans to achieve air-quality goals," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion released on Thursday.

"Should a State fail to prepare a legally compliant plan, however, the federal government may sometimes step in and assume that authority for itself," he continued.

Yet Gorsuch noted that "the federal government announced its intention to reject over 20 States' plans for controlling ozone pollution."

"In their place, the government sought to impose a single, uniform federal plan [called a FIP]," the justice went on to point out.

Rule challenged by several states and steel industry

Fox News noted that the rule was adopted due to complaints from states such as Wisconsin, New York and Connecticut that they must contend with an influx of pollution from outside their borders.

Under its provisions, states which release ground-level ozone are required to come up with plans explaining how they will prevent coal-fired power plants and other industrial sites from significantly contributing to smog in other states.

However, in instances where a state has failed to submit a plan or a plan has been rejected by federal authorities, the EPA will impose a plan of its own.

The good neighbor rule was challenged by Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia along with groups affiliated with the steel industry.

Their attorneys argued that it is costly and ineffective while also maintaining that it could threaten the reliability of America's electrical grid.

GOP lawmakers filed an amicus brief

Those positions were echoed in an amicus brief submitted by Washington Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, and Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker.

They alleged that the EPA rule "proposes to remake the energy sector in the affected states toward the agency’s preferred ends."

The lawmakers further insisted that the good neighbor rule and other Biden administration policies "are designed to hurriedly rid the U.S. power sector of fossil fuels by sharply increasing the operating costs for fossil fuel-fired power plant operators, forcing the plants’ premature retirement."

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