The Supreme Court recently ruled on an issue that has been around since the Obama Administration, West Virginia vs EPA. This recent ruling reduces the authority of the EPA to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants.
Chief Justice Roberts provided the following basis behind the decision. “The EPA’s effort to regulate greenhouse gases by making industry-wide changes violated the major-questions doctrine, the idea that if Congress wants to give an administrative agency the power to make decisions of vast economic and political significance, it must say so clearly.” Capping carbon dioxide
emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible solution to the crisis of the day, but only Congress, or an agency with express authority from Congress, can adopt a decision of such magnitude and consequence. “Justice Elena Kagan dissented; an opinion joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. She stated, “There was no reason for the court to weigh in at this stage at all, because the Biden administration has announced that it plans to issue a new rule. The majority’s reasoning rests on one claim alone: generation shifting is just too new and too big a deal for Congress to have authorized it.”
This ruling may not have settled the issue, but for now, the EPA does not have the authority to control carbon emissions from our nation’s power plants. Maybe now the nation will turn to nuclear power as the solution. More than 250 GW of coal capacity in the United States could be converted to nuclear, which could result in a decrease of greenhouse gas emission in
region by 86%, equivalent to taking more than 500,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles off the roads.