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Fighting climate change: Court reins in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

As of: 06/30/2022 6:55 PM

The US Supreme Court has limited the powers of the Biden administration to fight climate change. The Supreme Court ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency cannot set CO2 limits for coal-fired power plants.

A setback for US President Joe Biden in the fight against climate change: The US Supreme Court has weakened the US government’s ability to advance environmental policy. The Supreme Court ruled that the EPA does not have the authority to set detailed rules and regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA is limited in regulating carbon emissions from power plants. A panel with a majority of conservative justices concluded that the Clean Air Act did not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad powers to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The decision was taken by a vote of six to three.

EPA powers are under review

The decision was strongly criticized by the United Nations. “This is a setback in our fight against climate change,” said Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Such decisions made it difficult to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Eighteen Republican-majority U.S. states and coal companies fought the EPA’s powers to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the Supreme Court. The dispute goes back to former President Barack Obama’s tenure and is directed against a law that is no longer in effect in its original form.

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Controversy began over the EPA’s authority to force power plants to reduce their pollution. This primarily concerns states that need to reduce emissions from electricity generation by moving away from coal-fired power plants. However, the project failed. Following a lawsuit from West Virginia and others, the Supreme Court blocked the plan by a five-to-four majority in 2016.

Legal battle between Obama and Trump

However, the case continued. After Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, took office, the EPA created a new plan that severely limited the government’s role in the issue. 22 Most Democratic US states protested against the new version. An appeals court ruled against repealing the Obama plan and against the new plan, while the administration drafted a new version. A proposal is expected by the end of this year.

However, the plan is now practically out of date: The reductions targeted by the Obama plan by 2030 have already been achieved by closing hundreds of coal-fired power plants. Her business was no longer profitable.

US electricity generation to be CO2-neutral by 2035

Much power is now vested in federal agencies that report to the government, such as the EPA. Biden may now try to control pollution through such federal agencies. However, it has become more difficult now.

As one of his first official acts, Biden ordered the United States to return to the international climate agreement. Accordingly, the United States must produce electricity without carbon dioxide emissions by 2035 and reduce their CO2 emissions to zero by 2050.

He also announced that the United States intends to halve its emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. However, implementation of these goals remains problematic.

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