Bench Memos

Republican State AGs and Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA

Conservative state attorneys general have been on the front lines of battles for limited government, on topics ranging from Obamacare and Dodd-Frank to the EPA (Texas attorney general Greg Abbott alone has filed 17 lawsuits against the EPA). The Wall Street Journal reports that one of their challenges is headed to the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court will hear a crucial case about EPA overreach.

The Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency has spent the last few years stretching its legal authority, and now it will have to defend its actions before the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the Justices agreed to review how far the agency can go in regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, the Court consolidated six cert petitions and will consider a single legal question: Does the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from “mobile sources” like cars also apply to emissions from “stationary sources” like power plants? To put it another way: Can the EPA make up the rules as it goes along? . .

Parties to the suit include a handful of states that have been at the forefront of fighting the Obama Administration’s regulatory overreach. Texas and 11 other states have taken a stand together, while Alaska joined a brief with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

 As the Journal argues, the EPA essentially rewrote the statute to advance its (radical) policy agenda, which is all too common under the Obama administration. I thought Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt had a good explanation of what is at stake in efforts to reign in the EPA:

 “Some believe that we don’t need an EPA, that they don’t have any role at all,” Pruitt tells StateImpact. I’m not one of those folks. I think the EPA can serve — and has served, historically — a very valuable purpose.”

But Oklahoma’s Attorney General says the EPA is no longer serving that purpose — its historical mission to protect human health and preserve the environment. Pruitt says today, the EPA is writing and enforcing rules to pick winners and losers in the energy industry. . . .

That war could be fought in the nation’s biggest legal arena, Pruitt says. The questions in Oklahoma’s regional haze case deal with cooperative federalism — how state and federal governments are supposed to work. 

Congratulations to the conservative state attorneys general litigating this case, and I wish them the best of luck. 

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