Supreme Court Ruling Limits Greenhouse Gas Regulation Expansion

Jun 25, 2014

With the political conflict over global warming, the EPA has made greater attempts to regulate greenhouse gases via the Clean Air Act.  A recent US Supreme Court Ruling has pushed back at some of that authority.  KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.

The US Supreme Court has ruled against an attempt by the  Environmental Protection Agency to redefine its authority to regulate greenhouse gases.  Steve Mulder is chief of the environmental section at Alaska’s Department of Law.  He says that EPA used passages in the Clean Air Act that regulated large producers of pollutants, such as power plants, obliging them get permits.  He says by reinterpreting these passages to include greenhouse gases, it brought much smaller facilities under their authority.  

“The statute said basically emitters that emit over 250 tons per year, or for certain categories, at 100 tons per year, but when you try to translate that to greenhouse gases, that’s a very low threshold, and you would get a lot of facilities that aren’t currently regulated, small facilities.  

These would include retail stores, churches, malls, and other, less massive sources of carbon dioxide.  Seeing this as an overstepping of EPA’s authority, Mulder says the State of Alaska intervened.  

“The state intervened in the case, back when it was in the Court of Appeals with the DC circuit.  When we lost there, we were among the entities that petitioned the Supreme Court to review the decision.  Ours was among six petitions that the Supreme Court granted and decided to take the case.” 

Other parties included the US Chamber of Commerce, and the American Farm Bureau Federation.  While Tuesday’s ruling did not prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, it did prevent them from using their particular interpretation of the clean air act to expand their authority.  Alaska’s Attorney General, Michael Geraghty, says he’s pleased that EPA will not be able to “rewrite laws like the Clean Air Act to suit their purposes.”