On Monday, the United States’ Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could determine whether or not the federal government can impose a sweeping new set of regulations on the nation’s power plants. The regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan, were designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by up to 32 percent from 2005 levels.
The case has been closely watched by environmentalists, industry groups, and states that have taken opposing views on the issue. The Clean Power Plan was proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015, and has been challenged by a coalition of 27 states led by West Virginia. The states argue that the EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act in creating the new regulations.
At the center of the dispute is the question of whether the EPA has the legal authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The EPA has argued that it does have that authority, citing a provision in the Clean Air Act that gives it the power to regulate pollutants that pose a threat to public health or welfare. Opponents of the plan argue that the EPA has exceeded its authority and that the rule should be struck down.
The Supreme Court was also asked to consider whether or not the Clean Power Plan would be considered a “major” rule, which would require congressional authorization. This has been a particularly contentious issue, with some arguing that the EPA’s regulations should be subject to the same level of scrutiny as any other major rule.
The justices asked a number of questions during the oral arguments, and their decision is expected to be closely watched. Regardless of the outcome, it is likely that the case will be closely scrutinized by both sides and could have a significant impact on the future of the Clean Power Plan.