5th Circuit grills Biden admin on ESG rule that Chevron saved

By Pamela King | 07/09/2024 01:39 PM EDT

The argument is one of the first hearings on an environmental rule since the Supreme Court overturned the agency deference doctrine in June.

 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

A man walks in front of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 7, 2015, in New Orleans. Jonathan Bachman/AP

The demise of the Chevron doctrine may have jeopardized one of the Biden administration’s most unusual strategies to curb climate change.

During oral arguments Tuesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared prepared to reverse a ruling by a Trump-appointed judge that upheld a Labor Department rule that helps retirement plan sponsors account for climate risks in investing.

The lower court judge — Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas — had used Chevron as one basis for his decision in September. The Supreme Court ruled in June to overturn the doctrine, which says judges should generally defer to agencies’ reasonable interpretations of uncertainty in federal law.


“What effect in your mind has the Chevron change — Chevron departure, I guess we’ll say — had in this case?” 5th Circuit Judge Catharina Haynes, a George W. Bush appointee, asked a lawyer for opponents of the Labor Department rule during Tuesday’s arguments.