Press Release

Supreme Court Reaffirms EPA Authority to Curb Power Plant Carbon Pollution

Clean Air Act Ruling Buttresses President’s Climate Action Plan

WASHINGTON (June 23, 2014) — Building on two prior decisions affirming the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to set carbon pollution standards like those recently proposed for power plants, the Supreme Court today upheld the core of EPA’s associated permitting requirements for new carbon pollution sources.  

At issue was whether large new industrial facilities emitting carbon pollution – including power plants – need to obtain clean air permits before constructing, and in particular whether they need to show that they will use the “best available control technology” (BACT) to limit their emissions. The Court held that sources required to obtain permits for other pollutants are required to use BACT for all their pollutants, including carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants.

David Doniger, director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued this statement on the court’s ruling:

“The Court has upheld the requirement that big new industrial facilities must use the best available control technology to curb all air pollutants, including the carbon pollution that drives climate change.  The decision builds on the Court’s prior decisions upholding most important Clean Air Act authority in the fight against global warming – EPA’s responsibility to set national standards to curb the carbon pollution emitted by automobiles and power plants. The EPA has just proposed standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, and that critical work will move ahead to protect Americans from the worst impacts of climate change.”

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