On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments (transcript here) in Chamber of Commerce v. EPA and five other consolidated cases challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate literally anything that emits carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. Although the argument had moments of levity, such as when Solicitor General Donald Verrilli reassured the court that the EPA would not regulate CO2 emitted by human beings, the justices appear to be divided, with no obvious majority emerging during arguments.
My colleague, Carrie Severino, discussed this case in more detail on Monday morning, so if you want an in-depth discussion, read her piece. Here’s the short version: In 2007, the Supreme Court reversed the EPA in Massachusetts v. EPA because it didn’t give a statutory reason for refusing to regulate mobile sources of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. After the Obama administration came to power, the EPA not only embraced regulation of mobile sources of greenhouse gases, but extended the regulation to stationary sources, thus allowing the EPA to regulate literally millions of sources not heretofore understood to be subject to regulation, and increasing the wait time for obtaining permits for such sources up to ten years. The EPA admits that its interpretation of the Clean Air Act is absurd, but instead of adopting a reasonable interpretation, it asserts the authority to rewrite specific numeric limits for air pollutants that were set by Congress in the Clean Air Act.