By Timothy Cama - 06/23/14 01:12 PM EDT
Supporters and opponents of rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions both declared victory in a Monday Supreme Court decision that partially limited the agency’s authority.
The court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to require permits for power plants, factories, fuel refiners and other large carbon dioxide emitters, but only if they also emit large amounts of other pollutants like soot and ozone.
“If this rule had been allowed to stand, small business owners such as ranchers, farmers, manufacturers, restaurant owners and others would have seen more paperwork, more oversight and fines,” Karen Harned, executive director of the group’s legal center, said in a statement.
Under the ruling, the EPA is not allowed to require pollution permits for sources that only exceed the agency’s greenhouse gas threshold if they do not exceed other thresholds. The EPA said it can now require permits that cover 83 percent of stationary greenhouse gas sources, and the ruling only struck down its authority over an additional 3 percent.
Harned contends that the ruling protected small businesses that may have exceeded the greenhouse gas standard but not others.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also welcomed the ruling as a hard limit on the overreach of the EPA and President Obama.
“Today the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a stern rebuke to the president,” Abbot said in a statement “The court’s ruling affirms that we are a nation of laws, and the president and his executive agencies must follow the law just like anybody else. When they do not, the courts will hold them accountable.”
Green groups focused on the 83 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that were upheld, and hailed it as a win for pollution control.
“EPA’s foundational authority under the Clean Air Act to protect Americans’ health from the clear and present danger of climate pollution is rock solid,” said Vickie Patton, the Environmental Defense Fund’s general counsel.
“Recognizing EPA’s authority to protect public health from climate pollution, the high court today clarified that the best pollution controls for greenhouse gases apply to new and rebuilt industrial sources that are large emitters of other major air pollutants,” she said.
Joanne Spalding, an attorney for the Sierra Club, similarly found reason to be thankful the Supreme Court largely upheld EPA’s powers.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the largest new industrial facilities will need to limit their greenhouse gas emissions,” Spalding said. “The court’s ruling that the emissions of other pollutants trigger the requirement to limit greenhouse gases means, in practice, that all of the biggest polluters will be subject to greenhouse gas limits, as they have been for the past 3 years.”