The EPA and Regulating Greenhouse Gases


The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided a case involving the EPA and its rulemaking authority to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases. Shannon Goessling comments on the decision of the Court in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA.

Shannon Goessling

Shannon Goessling

Goessling opines that the Court aggressively pushed back against agency regulation that encroaches on the authority of Congress. Goessling feels that the EPA was disingenuous in its justifications for its very broad rules regarding greenhouse gases. Justice Scalia said that “[i]t takes some cheek for EPA to insist that it cannot possibly give 'air pollutant' a reasonable, context-appropriate meaning in the PSD and Title V contexts when it has been doing precisely that for decades.”

One of the issues has to do with best available control technology (BACT) to regulate emissions. The Court concluded that the EPA has to be circumspect in its approach. “It has to be on a case-by-case basis,” Goessling explains. The EPA has to look at the economic impact of their regulations. Some commentators suggest that the EPA got a scolding from the Court but emerged with most of its authority intact.

As to the question about whether the U.S. should lead the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that is a political issue Goessling says, that Congress should deal with.

Shannon L. Goessling is Executive Director for Southeastern Legal Foundation, an Atlanta, Georgia-based public interest law firm and policy center.  Goessling was the 2002 GOP nominee and candidate for Georgia Attorney General.  A former public servant, Goessling worked as a Senior Assistant District Attorney in metro Atlanta, prosecuting crimes against women and children.  The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.