EPA Regulations Once Again Head to the Supreme Court
In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court will be considering whether the EPA can regulate “stationary sources” of greenhouse gas emissions — power plants, for instance — under the same powers it uses to regulate “mobile sources” like cars, which the agency does under the authority of the Clean Air Act and 2007′s Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA.
The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2009, the Obama administration decided to take the Massachusetts ruling, which said carbon dioxide emissions constituted a pollutant, and apply a series of complex legal definitions to make rules to govern stationary sources of pollution. Originally, a plant would come under federal regulation once it produced more than 100 tons of pollutants annually.
The EPA realized the sweeping nature of such a ruling on, by its own estimates, more than 6 million buildings, including churches. The Wall Street Journal also notes the EPA perceived that so many buildings needing to meet regulations would create an unsustainable economic burden, costing the economy $30 billion to $40 billion per year. Therefore, the agency rewrote the rule to change the number from 100 tons to 75,000 tons per year.