E&E News quoted McGuireWoods partner Allison Wood in its coverage of oral arguments in a U.S. Supreme Court case testing the limits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
In West Virginia v. EPA, the high court will decide how the EPA can broadly regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. During oral arguments Feb. 28, 2022, the petitioners asserted that an EPA rule like the Clean Power Plan, which sought to establish systemwide emissions reductions, is prohibited under the major questions doctrine, E&E News reported.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett noted that the major questions doctrine appears to require a “mismatch” between an agency and its expertise, E&E News noted. She cited a recent Supreme Court decision stopping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from issuing an eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the court established the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in 2007’s Massachusetts v. EPA, E&E News reported.
“Here, Justice Barrett noted that there is a match between regulating greenhouse gases and that being something within EPA’s wheelhouse,” Wood told E&E News. “This may mean that the major questions doctrine does not have universal support among the conservative members of the Court.”
Wood represented clients before the Supreme Court in three landmark cases involving climate change, including Massachusetts v. EPA. In an E&E News story previewing arguments in the current case, Wood noted that none of the parties asked the high court to overturn precedent set in Massachusetts v. EPA. But the court’s decision could define the contours of the EPA’s authority, she said.
“The big question is, how far does the court go if it limits EPA’s authority?” Wood said.