Justices to Consider EPA Air Pollution Regulation
CWRU Law Professor Jonathan Adler says Supreme Court decision on climate regulation could be significant
The Supreme Court has decided to review the federal government’s power to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources. An eventual decision will affect how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tries to reduce global warming.
On Oct., the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA to consider the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. A grant of certiorari means at least four justices have agreed to review a case, or some aspect of it.
“This is quite significant,” said Case Western Reserve University Law Professor Jonathan H. Adler in a post on the popular legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy. “Although the grant is limited, it focuses on one of the most important legal questions raised by this litigation and puts some of the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources in play.”
The nation’s highest court accepted six of the nine petitions filed in this case to consider the question: Whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases.
According to Adler, the question now before the Court is whether the EPA correctly determined that its own decision to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from motor vehicles automatically gave the agency authority to regulate emissions from stationary sources as well, such as power plants and oil refineries. The EPA regulations are among measures President Obama sought to reduce climate change.
A federal appeals court in Washington upheld the rules issued by the EPA in 2012 under the Clean Air Act, rejecting challenges to the first ever federal regulations governing GHG emissions.
By agreeing to hear the legal claims raised by states and business groups, the Court will have the opportunity to clarify the reach of its 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the Court held GHG emissions could be regulated as “pollutants” under the Clean Air Act.
“The grant is welcome, despite the limitations,” Adler said. “Many of the questions for which industry sought review, such as whether the EPA properly considered the relevant scientific research or set permissible standards for vehicular emissions under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act, were not cert worthy.”
Adler is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and director of the Center for Business Law & Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where he teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law. Adler has written or edited four books on environmental policy and has had his scholarship cited by the Supreme Court.
He participated in an amicus brief of legal academics urging the Court to grant certiorari in this case.
Reporters and editors note: More information about Jonathan H. Adler is available at his Case Western Reserve University School of Law faculty page: http://law.case.edu/OurSchool/FacultyStaff/MeetOurFaculty/FacultyDetail.aspx?id=83&adj=0
Adler’s analysis of the various issues now before the Supreme Court is available through his post at National Review Online: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/360559/blockbuster-supreme-court-term-jonathan-h-adler