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US Supreme Court to hear challenge on greenhouse gas limits

The US Supreme Court agreed today to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants — a key piece of  the climate change strategy unveiled by US President Barack Obama earlier this year.

Industry groups and several states are challenging the EPA’s decision to regulate greenhouse gases produced by stationary sources, including power plants, under the Clean Air Act. Oral arguments in the case are expected to take place early next year.

But the court rejected the groups’ request to review whether the EPA has any authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Opponents of the regulations argued that there is insufficient evidence that the gases pose a risk to public health.

In 2007, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA required the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles if the gases endangered public welfare. In 2009, the EPA reviewed the evidence and declared greenhouse gases a threat, setting the stage for the emissions limits.

Rules for automobiles are already in place. The EPA proposed a rule for new power plants last month that would essentially ban the construction of coal-fired facilities. The agency is expected to release a proposal for existing power plants next June. Such facilities account for roughly 40% of US greenhouse gas emissions.



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