U.S. EPA to draft power plant emissions rules despite court ruling

Source: By Valerie Volcovici, Reuters • Posted: Tuesday, November 2, 2021

WASHINGTON, Nov 2 (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will continue to draft rules targeting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants despite a surprise Supreme Court decision last week to review its authority to do so, its administrator told Reuters on Monday.

“EPA will continue to move forward and use its statutory authority to be sure that we protect the public from harmful pollution, greenhouse gas pollution and pollution that contributes to the degradation of air quality,” Michael Regan said in an interview with Reuters.

The EPA is working on a proposal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, a major source of greenhouse gases, after a Trump-era rule was struck down by a federal appeals court in 2019 as “arbitrary and capricious”.

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a bid by states, including coal producer West Virginia, and industry groups to limit federal power to use the landmark Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

The decision could provide a glimpse into how the 6-3 conservative court will interpret the federal government’s role in combatting climate change, potentially hobbling President Joe Biden’s ability to meet his goals to decarbonize the U.S. economy to curb global warming.

Regan said he expects the court to back the EPA’s authority, and added that he also remains confident Biden can work with a divided Congress to pass important climate legislation.

But he added: “Irrespective Congress does, EPA will move forward with its statutory authority.”

The EPA on Tuesday also unveiled what Regan called a “historic proposal” to regulate new and existing sources of methane emissions from oil and gas operations, which he said will play a major role in achieving U.S. goals to fight climate change.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Richard Pullin