US Supreme Court Slams EPA’s Attempt to Wreck America’s Reliable & Affordable Power Supply

US Supreme Court Slams EPA’s Attempt to Wreck America’s Reliable & Affordable Power Supply

July 4, 2022 by stopthesethings Leave a Comment

It appears as if adults are finally taking charge of energy policy, wresting it from the hands of boffins and bureaucrats determined to have us freezing or boiling in the dark.

Germany has restarted its coal-fired power plants and looks unlikely to shut down its nuclear power plants as previously mandated; the French are determined to maintain their 56 nuclear plants and have plans to build 14 all new plants in the near future.

In the US, its Supreme Court has just crushed Joe Biden’s surreptitious efforts to destroy America’s coal-fired power plants by a mixture of underhanded stealth and unlawful regulation.

The Epoch Times had this report on Joe’s latest constitutional blow.

Supreme Court Narrows EPA’s Ability to Regulate Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Epoch Times
Matthew Vadum
30 June 2022

The Supreme Court ruled 6–3 on June 30 that the Clean Air Act doesn’t give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) widespread power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions that a popular theory says contribute to global warming.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the court’s majority opinion (pdf) in West Virginia v. EPA, court file 20-1530. Roberts was joined by the court’s other five conservatives. The court’s three liberal justices dissented.

While “capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’” Roberts wrote, quoting a 1992 precedent, “it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme in Section 111(d)” of the Clean Air Act.

“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” he wrote.

West Virginia and 18 other states challenged the authority the Clean Air Act provides the EPA.

In 2016, the Supreme Court overturned the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP), which expanded controls over the industry. Next, the deregulation-minded Trump administration reversed course, easing control on the industry with its Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE Rule)

On Jan. 19, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the ACE Rule, restoring some of the EPA’s authority in American Lung Association v. EPA (pdf). The court held that the EPA, under Trump, had misconstrued section 7411(d) of the Clean Air Act.

In the new opinion, the Supreme Court reversed the D.C. Circuit decision and remanded the case “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

In Justice Elena Kagan’s dissent, she criticized the court majority for a decision she said “strips” the EPA of the power Congress gave it to respond to “the most pressing environmental challenge of our time,” citing Massachusetts v. EPA (2007).

“Climate change’s causes and dangers are no longer subject to serious doubt. Modern science is ‘unequivocal that human influence’—in particular, the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide—’has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.’”

“Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change. And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself—instead of Congress or the expert agency—the decision maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who previously told The Epoch Times that the EPA is trying to transform itself from “an environmental regulator into a central energy planning authority,” praised the Supreme Court.

“For many years, we’ve argued that EPA only had a narrow bit of authority to regulate carbon emissions,” Morrisey, a Republican who brought the appeal, said at a press conference.

“I think that the court today amplified that point. And once again, they also made clear that when you have something this big, something with vast economic and political significance, then that represents an extraordinary question. And that means Congress needs to step in, as opposed to the unelected bureaucrats.

“We know that over the last year and a half, the Biden administration has tried to run roughshod over the American economy with respect to its energy agenda.

“We want to make sure that the Biden agenda is limited by basis of what Congress authorized these agencies [to do],” he said.

“Our founders envisioned” that “Congress and not the unelected bureaucrats” should make decisions “about the major issues of the day.”

“They didn’t want to just have these unelected bureaucrats reach out and try to seize power where it didn’t exist,” Morrisey said.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) criticized the ruling and the six conservative justices.

“As the devastating impacts of climate change are becoming ever-more present, it is mind boggling and deeply alarming that the Supreme Court today has decided to hamstring the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. This ruling not only restricts the agency’s ability to limit air pollution from the second-largest source of emissions in America, it also undermines the landmark Clean Air Act that gave it such authority,” the senator said.

“Make no mistake, with this devastating ruling in West Virginia v. EPA, the conservative majority of the Court continues to take our country backward and more worrisome, it opens the door to far-reaching implications for how other federal agencies generally create regulations to implement existing legislation moving forward.”
Epoch Times

You can almost feel the palpable rage amongst renewable energy-rent seekers and their Democrat buddies in Congress.

It is well worth considering the reasons given by the majority: West Virginia v EPA 20-1530_n758

In a nutshell, the dispute boiled down to an out-of-control Federal government agency engaged in bureaucratic overreach, attempting to wipe out America’s existing coal-fired power plants by setting up a regime that favours costly and unreliable wind and solar. Here are a few extracts from the majority’s reasons that paint the picture:

The Agency explained that, to implement the needed shift in generation to cleaner sources, an operator could reduce the regulated plant’s own production of electricity, build or invest in a new or existing natural gas plant, wind farm, or solar installation, or purchase emission allowances or credits as part of a cap-and-trade regime. Taking any of these steps would implement a sectorwide shift in electricity production from coal to natural gas and renewables. …

The Agency ultimately projected, for instance, that it would be feasible to have coal provide 27% of national electricity generation by 2030, down from 38% in 2014. From these projected changes, EPA determined the applicable emissions performance rates, which were so strict that no existing coal plant would have been able to achieve them without engaging in one of the three means of generation shifting. The Government projected that the rule would impose billions in compliance costs, raise retail electricity prices, require the retirement of dozens of coal plants, and eliminate tens of thousands of jobs.

The issue here is whether restructuring the Nation’s overall mix of electricity generation, to transition from 38% to 27% coal by 2030, can be the BSER within the meaning of Section 111.

Prior to 2015, EPA had always set Section 111 emissions limits based on the application of measures that would reduce pollution by causing the regulated source to operate more cleanly.

Reg. 48706—never by looking to a “system” that would reduce pollution simply by “shifting” polluting activity “from dirtier to cleaner sources.” The Government quibbles with this history, pointing to the 2005 Mercury Rule as one Section 111 rule that it says relied upon a cap-and-trade mechanism to reduce emissions. See 70 Fed. Reg. 28616. But in that regulation, EPA set the emissions limit—the “cap”—based on the use of “technologies [that could be] installed and operational on a nationwide basis” in the relevant timeframe. By contrast, and by design, there are no particular controls a coal plant operator can install and operate to attain the emissions limits established by the Clean Power Plan. Indeed, the Agency nodded to the novelty of its approach when it explained that it was pursuing a “broader, forward-thinking approach to the design” of Section 111 regulations that would “improve the overall power system,” rather than the emissions performance of individual sources, by forcing a shift throughout the power grid from one type of energy source to another.

The Government attempts to downplay matters, noting that the Agency must limit the magnitude of generation shift it demands to a level that will not be “exorbitantly costly” or “threaten the reliability of the grid.” Brief for Federal Respondents 42. This argument does not limit the breadth of EPA’s claimed authority so much as reveal it: On EPA’s view of Section 111(d), Congress implicitly tasked it, and it alone, with balancing the many vital considerations of national policy implicated in the basic regulation of how Americans get their energy. There is little reason to think Congress did so. EPA has admitted that issues of electricity transmission, distribution, and storage are not within its traditional expertise. And this Court doubts that “Congress . . . intended to delegate . . . decision[s] of such economic and political significance,” i.e., how much coal-based generation there should be over the coming decades, to any administrative agency.

[T]he only question before the Court is more narrow: whether the “best system of emission reduction” identified by EPA in the Clean Power Plan was within the authority granted to the Agency in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. For the reasons given, the answer is no.

Adults take charge of America’s energy security.

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