Specter of Supreme Court smackdown looms over Biden climate rule

By Niina H. Farah, Lesley Clark, Pamela King | 04/26/2024 06:54 AM EDT

The court spiked Obama-era controls on power plant emissions. Biden’s rule may be next.

Photo collage of supreme court building, power plant smoke stacks, EPA logo

The Supreme Court in 2022 rejected the Obama administration's attempt to curb carbon pollution from power plants. EPA under President Joe Biden hopes its new rule will withstand legal scrutiny. Illustration by Claudine Hellmuth/POLITICO (source images via iStock, Francis Chung/POLITICO

Before EPA can crack down on the nation’s second-largest source of climate pollution, the agency must survive the scrutiny of one of its most powerful critics — the conservative-dominated Supreme Court.

Republicans are already declaring that EPA’s rule to limit power plant pollution — issued Thursday — fails to conform to the high court’s West Virginia v. EPA ruling. That 2022 decision invalidated the Obama administration’s attempt to shift the electric grid to renewable sources and restricted the federal government’s power to write expensive and politically divisive regulations.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has already vowed to challenge the Biden rule in court and predicted he’d score a repeat victory against what he called an “out-of-control agency.”


Morrisey — a Republican who convinced the Supreme Court in West Virginia to scrap the Obama-era Clean Power Plan — said the new rule is designed to put coal plants out of business by setting standards facilities can’t meet.