In 2019, the administration of the (now former) President of the United States attempted to relax restrictions on power plant greenhouse emissions. In a move that could only harm the environment, the administration’s EPA lawyers filed a lawsuit that argued that the federal government does not have the authority to set national restrictions on emissions or force states to do so.
In essence, the plan would repeal the Clean Power Plan set up by the Obama administration and allow power plants to operate without substantial regulation. As New York Attorney General Letitia James put it, this rule only “served to support dirty and expensive coal plants, undercut clean and sustainable electricity, and left New Yorkers and all other Americans to foot the bill.”
Although the rule was approved by the EPA in 2019, we’re here to tell you that the US court of appeals struck down the EPA’s industry-friendly climate rule this week. The court stated that the deregulatory plan was a “mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act,” and that the EPA “fundamentally has misconceived the law.”
With the current EPA rules invalidated, the new Biden administration has a clean slate and can introduce strong regulations on emissions from the power sector. That’s a big deal, especially when you consider that the Biden administration has promised to cut emissions from the power sector by 32 percent (compared to 2005 levels) by 2030.
Although the court failed to reinstate a 2015 Obama administration rule that forced utilities to move toward renewable energy sources, the good news is that the Biden administration will now be free to enact similar rules without having to enter a legal battle over the previous rules that favored deregulation.
The expectation is that we will soon see laws enacted that will force utility companies to shift to renewable sources. When such laws come into place, we will be sure to tell you.