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U.S. Supreme Court Limits Some EPA Regulations

A power plant in Indianapolis. The EPA has unveiled a proposal for reducing coal-fired power plants emissions.

In a ruling issued Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court says the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to limit the amount of greenhouse gases companies can produce, but it can only do so if the company is already required to get permits for other pollutants.

The state of Indiana joined 12 other states in suing the EPA, alleging its new standards regulating greenhouse gases overstepped the authority Congress had given it.

In a statement, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says the court’s opinion agrees with that argument.

“The Court’s majority opinion underscores a basic principle of federalism:  An executive branch agency cannot exceed the authority the legislative branch granted it and impose requirements on states not contained in law approved by Congress,” Zoeller says, in a statement. ” If it does the Supreme Court can rein in the agency.”

But Sierra Club attorney Joanne Spalding says the Supreme Court still upheld the basic mission of the EPA.

“In that sense, it is a victory because the EPA has been engaged in the very difficult process of trying to determine the best way to regulate greenhouse gases,” Spalding says.

Spalding says the ruling is narrow and does not affect the EPA’s other proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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