WASHINGTON (June 30, 2022) – Today the U.S. Supreme Court curtailed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from the power sector. The Supreme Court ruled that the agency is not authorized to consider shifting generation from dirtier to cleaner power generating sources when establishing greenhouse gas emissions standards under the Clean Air Act provision in question.

The case that led to this decision was brought by coal mining companies and Republican states’ attorneys general in an effort to cripple the EPA’s ability to address climate change. The power sector is the second highest carbon emitter in the United States and last year coal generation increased. Rapidly reducing power plant emissions is essential to achieve the country’s climate goal of reducing emissions 50-52% by 2030 and ensure healthy and safe air quality for all Americans. Research has found that achieving 100% clean electricity in the United States by 2050 could save 1.6 million lives globally through 2100. Congress has the power to expand the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and enact policy that tackles power plant emissions.

Following is a statement from Dan Lashof, Director, WRI United States:

“The Supreme Court’s illogical decision to hamstring the EPA’s ability to limit carbon pollution from power plants makes it much harder for the agency to achieve its core mission to protect human health and the environment. The ruling ignores the interconnected structure of the power sector and imposes unnecessary limits on the pollution reduction options EPA can consider, which will result in higher costs and worse air pollution across the United States. Nonetheless, EPA should move forward with setting standards at the plant level, for which it has a strong basis.

“Congress must step up and finally start regulating emissions from the power sector and making climate investments that accelerate a transition to clean electricity. States, cities and the private sector also have roles to play in advancing a whole-of-society approach to tackle the climate crisis. Shifting to cleaner sources of electricity would lower Americans’ utility bills, protect our climate and dramatically cut down on air pollution that plagues communities across the nation, especially those that are disadvantaged and marginalized.”