Thursday, June 30, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its legal authority to regulate power plants. The Court ruled 6-3 against the power grab and said it exceeded the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Elena Kagan dissented, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer (on his final day as a Justice) and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Gorsuch wrote a concurrence, joined by Alito.
The opinion read, in part:
But the only question before the Court is more narrow: whether the ‘best system of emission reduction’ identified by EPA in the Clean Power Plan was within the authority granted to the Agency in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. For the reasons given, the answer is no.
The Court’s opinion revealed how expansive the Obama-era EPA was in its claim to power:
“Congress implicitly tasked it, and it alone, with balancing the many vital considerations of national policy implicated in the basic regulation of how Americans get their energy. There is little reason to think Congress did so. EPA has admitted that issues of electricity transmission, distribution, and storage are not within its traditional expertise.”
This case will stand as a breakwater against Congress’ delegation of its lawmaking authority.