West Virginia V. EPA Will Likely Be the Next Controversial Ruling by the Supreme Court

June 28, 2022

Mountaineer News

The aftermath and controversy surrounding the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is still going on, but it won’t take long for another possible landmark ruling by the high court.

In a matter of days, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case that could have heavy environmental impact:

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency.

West Virginia v. EPA could have major environmental implications

What exactly is it?

The case was heard by the Supreme Court in February.

It pits West Virginia, with the main plaintiff being West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, against the EPA.

Morrisey is joined by Republican attorneys general from more than a dozen other states, and two coal companies are also being represented by Morrissey’s office.

The plaintiffs are arguing that the EPA doesn’t have the authority to regulate power plant emissions and that Congress should be granted that authority.

The EPA, backed by the administration of President Joe Biden, is being represented by the U.S. Solicitor General.

How did it come about?

Essentially, there is an absence of concrete federal regulation at the moment, so the case comes down to the Supreme Court trying to set a precedent for the future of how power plant emissions are regulated.

Back in June 2019, President Donald Trump repealed the Clean Power Plan, which was established under President Barack Obama to set national limits on carbon pollutions from power plants in the U.S.

In its place was the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which established guidelines for states to use when setting limits for greenhouse gases, according to a statement from the EPA.

President Biden and the EPA didn’t revive Obama’s Clean Power Plan and is trying to formulate its own regulations for power plants.

What's at stake?

Biden’s ability to push through any initiatives on climate could be greatly affected if it’s Congress and states, not the EPA, that regulates future emissions.

Environmental groups and various power companies, including utility companies filed amicus briefs supporting the EPA and presented their case during oral arguments.

Those companies are siding with the EPA out of fear Congress would be slower to act on issues and also because more lawsuits could occur if the EPA loses the authority to regulate, according to nature.com.

Morrisey and supporters for the plaintiffs feel such decisions should be in the hands of elected officials, not the EPA.