High court climate case looks at EPA’s power

WASHINGTON (AP) — Industry groups and Republican-led
states are heading an attack at the Supreme Court against the Obama
administration’s sole means of trying to limit power-plant and factory
emissions of gases blamed for global warming.
As President Barack
Obama pledges to act on environmental and other matters when Congress
doesn’t, or won’t, opponents of regulating carbon dioxide and other
heat-trapping gases cast the rule as a power grab of historic
proportions.
The court is hearing arguments Monday about a small
but important piece of the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to
cut the emissions — a requirement that companies expanding industrial
facilities or building new ones that would increase overall pollution
must also evaluate ways to reduce the carbon they release.
Environmental
groups and even some of their opponents say that whatever the court
decides, EPA still will be able to move forward with broader plans to
set emission standards for greenhouse gases for new and existing power
plants.
But a court ruling against the EPA almost undoubtedly
would be used to challenge every step of the agency’s effort to deal
with climate change, said Jacob Hollinger, a partner with the McDermott
Will and Emery law firm in New York and a former EPA lawyer.
Republicans
have objected strenuously to the administration’s decision to push
ahead with the regulations after Congress failed to pass climate
legislation.
In 2012, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the EPA was
"unambiguously correct" in using existing federal law to address global
warming.
Monday’s case, for which the court has expanded argument
time to 90 minutes from the usual 60, stems from the high court’s 2007
ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, which said the agency has the authority
under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions of greenhouse gases from
vehicles.
Two years later, with Obama in office, the EPA concluded
that the release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases
endangered human health and welfare. The administration used that
finding to extend its regulatory reach beyond automobiles and develop
national standards for large stationary sources.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
redistributed.