Thursday, June 30, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Did Not Affect EPA’s Ability To Regulate Carbon Dioxide As A Pollutant, Has No Impact On DEP's RGGI Power Plant Carbon Pollution Reduction Program

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision invalidating the Clean Power Plan the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency repealed in June 2019 and that had never gone into effect.

The goal of the Plan was to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants under the federal Clean Air Act.  In fact, market forces favoring natural gas have reduced the number of coal-fired power plants significantly.

In Pennsylvania, there are only three that have not announced closure plans.

EPA does have authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act and the Court’s ruling did not address that existing authority.

DEP Statement

Acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection Ramez Ziadeh issued this statement in response to the Supreme Court ruling--

“Governor Tom Wolf and DEP have been at the forefront of protecting the air we breathe and ensuring that communities are not bearing unfair burdens from regulations protecting air quality. 

“Cost-effective actions like reducing methane leaks from gas wells and participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will continue to improve Pennsylvania’s air for years to come. 

“Today’s ruling undercuts good-faith efforts to fight climate change and protect clean air but that does not mean we will stop fighting. Pennsylvanians strongly favor strong protections for the air we all breathe, the water we drink, and the land we live, work, and play on. This administration will continue to uphold our constitutional responsibility to conserve and maintain clean air and pure water for all people, including generations yet to come.”

Other Reaction

In a statement reacting to the ruling, PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo said--

“PennFuture is extremely dismayed by the Supreme Court’s decision today in the case of West Virginia vs. Environmental Protection Agency.

“This misguided decision will have far-reaching consequences and is exactly the opposite of what is needed in this moment as the climate crisis continues to accelerate unabated. 

‘The stripping of the [federal] executive branch’s power to enforce regulations that cut greenhouse gas pollution and fight climate change that impacts every region of our country, and leaving it in the hands of a Congress that has shown almost no appetite to do so, will have disastrous consequences.”

No Impact On PA RGGI Rule

“We have seen this same scenario play out in Pennsylvania, where legislators have tried time and again to strip Gov. Wolf’s existing authority under Pennsylvania law to enter the Commonwealth into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative," according to PennFuture. 

“Similar to Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, lawmakers in Congress aren’t actually interested in having the authority to fight climate change. Instead, they only seek to take power away from other branches of government that have spurned Congress’ inaction on climate issues and have dared to act in the best interests of our residents and our planet.

“Pennsylvania’s Constitution clearly grants guaranteed rights to clean air for every resident, and Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Control Act gives our Department of Environmental Protection the authority to regulate pollution. 

“The decision handed down by the Supreme Court does not change these rights and it does not change Pennsylvania's authority to regulate greenhouse gases."

Pennsylvania’s final regulations implementing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative became effective on April 23, 2022.  Read more here.

Visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage for more information.

Reaction By Other Groups:

-- Clean Air Council

-- Environmental Defense Fund

-- Natural Resources Defense Council

-- Vote Solar

-- Sierra Club


-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: Supreme Court Ruling A Set-Back For Climate Regulations, But PA Retains Power To Set Carbon Pollution Limits, Lawyers Say

-- Inquirer - Frank Kummer: ‘Major Step Backward’: PA Groups React To Supreme Court Decision On Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

-- TribLive: What Supreme Court’s EPA Ruling Means For Carbon Emissions In Pittsburgh, PA

-- AP: U.S. Supreme Court Limits EPA’s Authority To Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Power Plants 

-- Bloomberg Green: EPA Isn’t ‘Knocked Out,’ But Doing Its Job Just Got Much Harder

-- Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court Just Gave Federal Agencies A Big Reason To Worry

-- Utility Dive: U.S. Supreme Court Rejects EPA Ability To Set Fleet-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards For Power Plants

-- WSJ: U.S. Supreme Court Limits Power Of EPA Over Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Other Regulatory Agencies

-- WPost: U.S. Supreme Court Limits EPA’s Power To Reduce Carbon Emissions From Power Plants

-- Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court Limits Federal Power To Curb Carbon Emissions

-- Bloomberg: U.S. Supreme Court Curbs EPA’s Climate Authority In Blow To Biden

-- Financial Times: U.S. Supreme Court Curbs EPA’s Power To Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Related Articles This Week:

-- Young Evangelicals For Climate Action Respond To U.S. Supreme Court Decision On Regulating Power Plant Carbon Pollution  [PaEN]

-- Evangelical Environmental Network Testifies In Congress On Need To Defend Our Children’s Health & Taxpayers By Fixing Oil & Gas Facility Methane Leaks, Require Real Well Plugging Bonding  [PaEN]

[Posted: June 30, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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