The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the Biden administration’s efforts to slash emissions at existing power plants. The 6-3 ruling is a major defeat for the White House’s goal of curbing carbon levels to fight climate change.
The majority said the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency sweeping powers to regulate greenhouse gasses emitted from energy plants.
The Biden administration planned to unveil a major proposal to control power plant emissions by January. The court’s ruling, however, damages the already-stated goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade.
Chief Justice John Roberts’ written opinion stated that, while the goal is admirable, Congress did not authorize the EPA to take such regulatory action. That power, he said, must be made clear by the legislature.
Some on the high court now call these cases “major questions doctrine.” The idea is that federal agencies may not take action or implement rules that are “transformational” without specific authorization by Congress. Acts that have the effects of laws are constitutionally Congress’ responsibility.
The court’s liberal minority bashed the decision. Justice Elena Kagan, along with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and the now-retired Stephen Breyer, accused the majority of replacing Congress’ policy decisions with its own.
The White House, in what is now almost a daily occurrence, bashed the Supreme Court decision. In a statement, the administration accused the high court of reaching another “devastating decision” to “take our country backward.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), never to be confused with the voice of reason, blistered the court’s ruling as “catastrophic.” Saying Biden’s filibuster carveout proposal is lacking, AOC tweeted that “we need to reform or do away with the whole thing.”
Presumably, she meant the filibuster and not the Supreme Court.
Congressional Democrats have a long history of delegating tough decisions to regulatory bodies that are not empowered to make law. If Congress wants to lower carbon emissions, then Congress should act.
The Supreme Court is right that legislators cannot delegate their constitutional authority to pencil pushers. If the goal is worthy enough, change the law and face the voters.