OVERNIGHT REGULATION: EPA’s winning streak alive, with an asterisk

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SUPREME SPIN: Industry groups and congressional Republicans have high praise for the high court tonight, following SCOTUS’s finding that the EPA overreached in its bid to regulate greenhouse gases.

And why shouldn’t they, in light of sentiments like this from the Roberts court?

“EPA asserts newfound authority to regulate millions of small sources — including retail stores, offices, apartment buildings, shopping centers, schools, and churches — and to decide, on an ongoing basis and without regard for the thresholds prescribed by Congress, how many of those sources to regulate.” – Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority.

Yet the EPA and its allies in Washington are also trumpeting the complex ruling as extending the agency’s formidable legal winning streak in the courts.

Today is a good day for all supporters of clean air and public health and those concerned with creating a better environment for future generations. – EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia.

So who really won?

-- Three takeaways from the ruling:

1) The EPA is right that the justices affirmed the agency’s authority to require greenhouse gas permits for power plants and other stationary sources, under the Clean Air Act. The court found the EPA “reasonably interpreted” the law in its GHG imposition of regulations on those – as long as they also emit large amounts of other pollutants like soot and ozone.

2) The EPA’s opponents are right that the ruling checks the agency’s authority. A majority of the justices backed a portion of Scalia’s opinion finding that the agency went too far in asserting the power to impose restrictions on entities strictly because they emit greenhouse gas. Some administration critics say that conclusion – based on a finding that the EPA took liberties with federal statute – could come back to haunt the agency during the inevitable upcoming challenges to its contentious existing power plant rule.

3) The bottom line: For now, however, the EPA says (and Scalia agrees) that the administration can move forward with regulation of the vast majority of stationary greenhouse gas emitters.


The Senate and House will both be in session to kick off another busy legislative week in Congress.

-The House Natural Resources Committee will hold hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new Waters of the U.S. rule, which proposes to regulate small lakes, streams, and ponds. http://j.mp/UBEenM

-The House Education and Workforce subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing looking at the impact that recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will have on the future of labor-management relations. The hearing will discuss the NLRB's push to speed up union elections, restrict access to secret ballot elections, and the pending Supreme Court case on the NLRB's controversial recess appointees. http://j.mp/UoxVnt

-The House Natural Resources subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing on the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) proposed regulations that would ban the trade of elephant ivory, a move that recently drew backlash from professional musicians (http://j.mp/1lcEcgy) who said they would not be able to perform internationally because many of their older instruments were made with ivory. http://j.mp/1lcEcgy

-The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing looking at the growing number of unaccompanied children who are illegally crossing the border by themselves. http://j.mp/SY8VC8

-House and Senate Judiciary subcommittees will both hold hearings on the proposed merger between AT&T and DIRECTV, with the House panel looking at it from a regulatory perspective. http://j.mp/1mfwDFW


The Obama administration plans to issue 215 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register.

-The Department of Defense will propose a rule Tuesday that would allow it to opt out of a deal with a government contractor that is found to be mistreating animals during research, development, testing, evaluation, or training for a military program.

The Defense Department could also inspect the facilities of these contractors to make sure they are complying with animal welfare laws. http://j.mp/1yGdhz1

"Contractors shall acquire and care for animals in accordance with the pertinent laws of the United States," the Defense Department wrote.

-The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will consider a travel ban on certain pet snakes. The rules would apply to fives types of pythons, anacondas, and boa constrictors. Snake owners would be required to obtain a permit to buy one of these snakes from a foreign country or travel around with it. http://j.mp/1woqquw

-The FWS will also add three types of parrots to the endangered and threatened species list. The Philippine cockatoo, yellow-crested cockatoo, and white cockatoo will all be protected from poachers. http://j.mp/1q1V7p1

-The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers will freeze the Waters of the U.S. rule until the end of the summer. This rule would extend the agency's authority to include small rivers, lakes, and streams. http://j.mp/1szL50j

-The EPA will push for new air pollution standards in New England. The agency is looking to approve the state ambient air quality standards proposed by Maine and New Hampshire. http://j.mp/1pFcQkd


VICTORY LAP: Environmental groups are cheering the fact the court upheld EPA’s authority to regulate the vast majority of greenhouse gas sources, The Hill's Tim Cama reports. http://j.mp/UBQnsU

NOT SO FAST! But one coal state Democrat called the ruling a "chink in the EPA's armor," because it prevents the EPA from going after certain sources of greenhouse gas. "While I would like to have seen the Court issue a strong rebuke of the agency, today's narrow ruling represents a chink in the EPA's armor," Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) said. http://j.mp/1l4vIDh

KNEE DEEP IN RED TAPE: House Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy says his days as a small business owner taught him about the pitfalls of overly burdensome regulations, The Hill reports. http://j.mp/1uYPoy3

SNAKE BAN: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a ban on imports of large snakes such as pythons, anacondas and boa constrictors without a permit. http://j.mp/1pEBrWk

CHOO-CHOO: The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case that will determine how much authority Amtrak has to regulate its own trains, The Wall Street Journal reports. http://j.mp/1qtezZp

TAXI! The Boston Globe argues that outdated taxi regulations around the country are making it difficult for traditional cabs to compete with the likes of Uber and other Web-based taxi companies that offer faster, more reliable service. http://j.mp/1izVlRJ


86: The percentage of stationary sources of greenhouse gas the EPA sought to regulate under regulations at the center of Monday’s Supreme Court ruling.

83: The percent that the agency may now regulate, according to Scalia.

7: The number of Supreme Court justices signing on to the portion of the ruling affirming EPA’s regulatory authority.

5: The number of justices who also said the EPA overstepped.


“We are not talking about extending EPA jurisdiction over millions of previously unregulated entities, but about moderately increasing the demands EPA (or a state permitting authority) can make of entities already subject to its regulation.” – Scalia, writing for the majority, on the court’s position.

We’ll endeavor to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, via  bgoad@thehill.com or tdevaney@thehill.com. And follow us at @ben_goadand @timdevaney.