National media organizations turned to McGuireWoods partner Allison Wood for insight on the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 30, 2022, ruling that clarifies the limits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.
In West Virginia v. EPA, a high court majority determined that the EPA does not have broad authority to require a shift in electricity generation from coal-fired power plants to other sources as the agency attempted to do under the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. E&E News, Politico, Scientific American, POWER magazine, T&D World and USA Today were among the news outlets that published Wood’s comments on the Supreme Court’s historic opinion. Wood also wrote a July 14, 2022, article for Law360 analyzing the decision.
“What the Supreme Court is saying is we expect anything that has a large impact on the economy and nation to be explicitly authorized by Congress,” Wood told E&E News in a story that was republished in Scientific American and excerpted in Politico.
“This rejection will limit what the Biden administration can do to regulate greenhouse gas emissions not just from existing power plants but also from existing sources in other industries as well,” Wood said in comments published by POWER and T&D World.
The Supreme Court’s majority held that the EPA's broad interpretation of its authority in the Clean Power Plan violated the "major questions doctrine," which prohibits agencies from issuing regulations with significant economic and political implications unless Congress provides a clear statement granting them such authority.
“The most significant impact of the court's decision in West Virginia v. EPA has nothing to do with climate change regulation or the Clean Air Act,” she wrote. “Instead, it is the elevation of the major questions doctrine, which could have a significant effect on the ability of all federal agencies to issue regulations in all manner of areas.”
Wood is nationally recognized as a leader in the fields of climate change and environmental law and has represented clients in landmark Clean Air Act cases at the Supreme Court. She told USA Today that the West Virginia v. EPA case may lead environmental groups to work directly with businesses to improve environmental practices.
“There are ways of getting at it through companies themselves,” she said.