U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Indiana Lawsuit Against EPA

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today it will hear a case from Indiana and 11 other states that argues the EPA's regulations on greenhouse gases are unlawful.

power plant

Photo: Cathy (flickr)

John E. Amos Power Plant is a three-unit coal-fired power plant owned and operated by Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP), in West Verginia.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today it will hear a case brought by Indiana, along with 11 other states, challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The high court has decided to hear the case during the current session, although it has not set a scheduled date for when arguments will be heard.

The lawsuit, originally filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, argues the EPA’s regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, from power plants and refineries violate the Clean Air Act.

As NPR reports, the case specifically challenges a policy that requires new power plants and other big polluting facilities to apply for permits to emit greenhouse gases.

To get these permits, which have been required since 2011, companies may have to use pollution controls or otherwise reduce greenhouse gases from their operations — although industries report that so far they haven’t had to install special pollution control equipment to qualify for the permits.

Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, says just having the Supreme Court hear the case is a win for states involved in the suit.

“Whether the EPA exceeded its regulatory authority under the statute Congress passed is an important legal question the 12 states, including Texas and Indiana, ask the United States Supreme Court the decide. So we are pleased the nation’s highest court has chosen this case for hearing.

The case was last heard by U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which ruled in favor of the EPA. Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor Jim Barnes says it’s hard to predict whether the Supreme Court will follow suit.

“My sense would be it might be better than a 50/50 chance that the supreme court is going to uphold what EPA did, but it’s a bit of a toss-up it’s certainly isn’t a slam dunk either way,” Barnes says.

Still, Barnes says even if the Supreme Court ruled against the EPA, power plants would still be subject to many other regulations outlined in the Clean Air Act.

The lawsuit comes just one month after the EPA announced proposed limits on the amount of carbon dioxide emissions coal and natural gas powered plants could release and has promised to outline additional mandates next year.

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