Supreme Court Upholds Factory GHG Emissions Limits

by | Jun 24, 2014

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industrial plant emissionsThe US Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require large industrial facilities and power plants to limit their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses if they are also required to obtain permits due to their emissions of other dangerous air pollutants.

The high court rejected arguments from industry and some states that these limits on climate change pollution are unworkable.

At the same time, the decision held that the EPA could not extend permitting requirements to sources that emit only climate change pollution and not other dangerous pollutants.

The industrial facilities at issue in this case are new plants, including power plants, refineries and cement kilns, and plants undergoing major modification that increase emissions. The rule does not apply to smaller businesses, the court said.

The National Association of Manufacturers called the ruling a victory for “rational limits on executive power. The Supreme Court agreed with the NAM that the EPA may not regulate the entire economy by requiring burdensome new permits for millions of small and medium-sized manufacturers, schools, hospitals, office buildings, churches, warehouses and other buildings,” NAM senior vice president and general counsel Linda Kelly said.

The decision is also a victory for the Obama administration as it seeks to use the Clean Air Act to combat climate change, Vickie Patton, a lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Los Angeles Times. It’s a “big win” for the EPA’s efforts to regulate new power plants, and also for the proposed rules issued earlier this month that would curb pollution from existing power plants.

Photo Credit: industrial plant emissions via Shutterstock

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