Justices to review greenhouse gas regulation

Story highlights

  • Coalition of states, utilities is challenging the government's authority to limit air pollution
  • At issue is whether the EPA can tighten emission standards for all greenhouse gas sources
  • The government says the tighter rules are an attempt to stem the effects of global warming
  • Business groups say regulations are hurting the economy and stifling innovation
The Supreme Court will take another look at government regulation of air pollution in a high-stakes environmental and economic fight pitting the Obama administration against a coalition of states and utilities.
The justices announced Tuesday they had accepted six separate appeals for review, which will be consolidated into an hour of oral arguments scheduled for early next year. A ruling is expected by June.
At issue is whether the federal Environmental Protection Agency can tighten emission standards for stationary greenhouse gas sources, such as power plants, in what the government says is an effort to stem the effects of global warming.
The high court in 2007 affirmed the conclusions by much of the scientific community that greenhouse gases are an air pollutant, but that case dealt with emissions from motor vehicles. A range of business groups say the agency then improperly extended its regulatory authority.
Texas was among the states whose cases were accepted.
The court rejected three other related appeals, including one from Virginia state officials: broader challenges to the EPA's power over carbon emissions.
Numerous environmental groups support the administration, saying the court's acceptance of only one legal question was a positive sign.
"Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny numerous further legal challenges to EPA's science-based determination that six greenhouse gases threaten our nation's health and well-being is a historic victory for all Americans that are afflicted by the ravages of extreme weather," said Vickie Patton, general counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund. "Those decisions make it abundantly clear, once and for all, that EPA has the both legal authority and the responsibility to addr