US Supreme Court backs Obama’s carbon regulations

US Supreme Court backs Obama’s carbon regulations

The decision left untouched President Barack Obama’s more comprehensive climate-change proposal released June 2 to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants.

The US Supreme Court has ruled the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the legal authority to control greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and industry, but put limits on its ability to require pollution permits from small polluters.

Green groups praised the decision, one of the many environmental court wins for the Obama administration. The ruling was also welcomed by US businesses that had opposed permit requirements that they said would burden small companies.

“EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case,” Justice Antonin Scalia, said as it announced the decision.

His comment really tells the story. The court’s decision does nothing to block the environmental regulator’s latest plan to cut carbon dioxide pollution from power plants by 30%, although those proposed cuts are likely to face separate legal challenges.

The agency also wanted the authority to regulate facilities such as power plants that were responsible for 86% of greenhouse gas emissions from fixed sources. Yesterday’s verdict will enable it to regulate sources responsible for 83%.

The decision left untouched President Barack Obama’s more comprehensive climate-change proposal released June 2 to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants.

The case marked the high court's first review of the EPA's greenhouse-gas efforts since a landmark 2007 Supreme Court decision allowed the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.