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Clean Wisconsin calls U.S. Supreme Court EPA decision overreaching and disappointing


Last week, a U.S. Supreme Court decision limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions that cause climate change.

Clean Wisconsin was one of several environmental organizations to file briefs in West Virginia v. EPA.

Clean Wisconsin General Counsel Katie Nekola called the Supreme Court’s decision expected but still disappointing.

“We felt that the court had unreasonably narrowed the options to the states to help fight climate change,” said Nekola.

The court case centered on how the EPA can regulate coal-fired power plants, which are the single largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S. that cause climate challenge.

“It was a very important case. One our missions, one of main missions as an organization is trying to fight climate change and the EPA rules governing power plants emissions are a key component of that fight,” said Nekola.

In its decision, the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming.

Nekola says the ruling still gives the EPA power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions but limits the tools that can be used to fight climate change

“It’s unfortunate because we are already transitioning to cleaner energy. What the court did here was just ignore reality, essentially, and say, ‘No, you’ve got to just got to put expense retrofits on your existing coal plants’ instead of being able to meet the standards by renewable energy or storage or any of the newer technologies that are available,” she said.

Nekola also worries what the precedent of this decision could mean. She called it an overreach of the court, especially since there wasn’t a rule in place the case was arguing over.

“What this was, was the court deciding to step in and proactively make a decision that would limit future agency decisions. Which is not what the court is supposed to do. The court is supposed to have a live, something in front of it to rule on, not just make an advisory opinion,” said Nekola.

Nekola and other environmentalist are concerned about the timing of this decision.

A recent UN report found the world is running out of time to dramatically reduce carbon emissions to avert the worst impacts of global warming.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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