Court's Rejection of Trump EPA Rule Clears Slate for Emissions Regulation

A D.C. circuit court struck down a rule that limited the agency's regulatory reach to emissions "at the source" in the power sector.

1 minute read

January 28, 2021, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Ohio River Power Plant

The Affordable Clean Energy Rule repealed Obama's Clean Power Plan, which set limits on carbon pollution from power plants. | Essington Creative / Shutterstock

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the EPA's Affordable Clean Energy rule, setting the stage for renewed efforts to regulate emissions at the federal level, reports Ellen M. Gilmer. "The decision undercuts Trump officials’ bid to leave a legacy of deregulation, tossing one of the administration’s highest-profile replacements of aggressive Obama-era environmental rules."

The Trump EPA claimed that the agency could only enforce emissions restrictions "at the source" of power plants, limiting the extent of the agency's power. The court's decision clears the way for a return to the previous administration's "sector-wide approach to reducing emissions." The court rejected the EPA's arguments, asserting that the agency's reading of the Clean Air Act "require[s] the Agency to turn its back on major elements of the systems that the power sector is actually and successfully using to efficiently and cost-effectively achieve the greatest emission reductions."

The ruling will allow the Biden administration to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector more effectively, but also leaves a "regulatory gap" as the new officials craft a plan. "Environmental lawyers expect new agency leaders to opt for a broad, Clean Power Plan-style approach, but have cautioned that any ambitious regulation will likely invite a skeptical eye from the U.S. Supreme Court’s new 6-to-3 conservative majority."

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 in Bloomberg Law

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