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SCOTUS rules against EPA overreach

SCOTUS rules against EPA overreach

By: Sarah Ulmer - June 30, 2022

Mississippi Governor Reeves says the decision strikes a major blow to President Biden’s radical Green New Deal agenda.

In a 6-3 decision on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot pass overarching regulations that might overhaul entire industries without congressional approval.

The case, West Virginia V. EPA, stemmed from the Obama Administration’s 2015 Clean Power Act. The Act attempted to reduce carbon emissions at power plants by implementing a shift from coal usage to natural gas and finally to wind and solar energy.

However, the plan was halted in 2016 by the U.S. Supreme Court.  It was eventually repealed by the Trump Administration and replaced by the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE) which put less strain and extreme measures on plants.

With another party change in the White House, the Biden Administration took the ACE Rule to court and ultimately vacated both the ruling on the Clean Power Plan and ACE Rule.

From these consistent changes, the question was raised as to how much power the EPA can have based on a provision in the Clean Air Act, Section 111, which was passed on a bipartisan vote in 1970.  This section of the act allows the EPA to set “standards of performance” on air pollution.  The standards take into account costs, energy requirements, and non-air health as well as environmental impact.

The Clean Air Act has cut air population by 78 percent, even while the nation grew exponentially in size, reports say.

In the case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, West Virginia argued that even though federal agencies usually have broad rule making power, that power is still delegated by Congress.  This is called the “major question doctrine.”  While the Trump EPA repealed the plan in 2019, citing that doctrine, the Biden EPA clams that it did not apply to this particular case.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar cited that there cannot be a major question because there is no current rule.

President Joe Biden

“The Supreme Court’s ruling in West Virginia vs. EPA is another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards. While this decision risks damaging our nation’s ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis,” said President Biden in a statement.

Biden added that he has directed his legal team to work with the Department of Justice and impacted agencies to review this decision carefully and find ways that they can, under federal law, continue protecting Americans from air pollution.

Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, however, said the decision was good for the nation’s energy needs.

Senator Roger Wicker

“This is a good day for our Constitution and our nation’s power generation needs,” said Senator Wicker.  “The Supreme Court rightly held that the EPA does not have the sweeping authority to transform a vast portion of our economy without explicit authorization. This decision returns authority over important policy questions back to Congress where it belongs.”

Wicker and other Senators, including Mississippi’s other Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, joined an amicus brief with the Environment and Public Works Committee opposing EPA efforts to transform the nations power sector without congressional action.

Ultimately in the case, the Supreme Court said that the new interpretation of the law was unprecedented and impacted a fundamental revision of the statute. Due to this, the Court was skeptical of what the law really intended.

“To overcome that skepticism, the Government must—under the major questions doctrine—point to ‘clear congressional authorization’ to regulate in that manner,” the Court said, ultimately determining that the EPA failed to find such authorization.

The dissent in the case argued that serious changes needed to be made due to the impact of climate change and that Section 111 authorizes the EPA to do just that because it allows them to choose the “best system of emission reduction.”

Not only could the case have a positive impact on Mississippi energy costs and consumers, but it could also put a pause on President Biden’s Green New Deal agenda, a move that Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves welcomed in his statement on the decision.

Governor Tate Reeves

“The United States Supreme Court today struck a major blow against President Biden’s radical Green New Deal agenda. This means that the Biden Administration can no longer circumvent Congress to enact extreme rules that undermine the democratic process and threaten our nation’s economy and power grid,” said Governor Reeves.

Reeves added that today’s decision is a resounding victory for checks and balances and the founding principles of the nation.

“It deals a serious loss to the seemingly never-ending attempts of the Biden Administration and its mob of unelected and unaccountable woke bureaucrats to bypass Congress and make ‘laws’ through the administrative state,” Governor Reeves said.

Reeves’ office stood with others across the nation pushing back against unconstitutional government overreach, and the Governor said he considers this a great win for America.

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About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: