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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Supreme Court Poses New Challenge to a Biden Climate Agenda Whittled Down by Joe Manchin

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case aimed at reversing an appeals court decision that overturned a Trump-era rule limiting the regulation of carbon emissions from power plants, possibly threatening President Joe Biden‘s already-hampered climate agenda.

The news comes as Biden is set to attend a climate summit with world leaders where he plans to reassert the United States’ commitment to battling climate change. Recently, the president reached a deal with Congress to secure $555 billion for his climate agenda.

Biden is seeking to reduce fossil fuel emissions to tackle climate change, which many scientists consider to be an existential threat to the planet. He is aiming to decarbonize the U.S. power grid by 2035 and the U.S. economy by 2050.

But his agenda has faced opposition from some centrist Democrats, including West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who comes from a state that has been historically reliant on coal.

Manchin successfully fought to remove a plan that would have quickly replaced coal and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy.

President Donald Trump‘s Affordable Clean Energy rule was overturned by the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia in January. The rule essentially repealed the Clean Power Plan, which was passed during the Obama administration and weakened environmental-based regulations, Reuters reported.

The judges on the panel that overturned the rule argued it was based “critically on a mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act.”

The Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, mostly from coal power plants.

Now 20 states and industry groups are seeking to reinstate the Trump-era rule. A decision on the case is due by the end of June, Reuters reported.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey celebrated the court’s decision to hear the case on Twitter, calling it “huge” for West Virginia.

“Court will hear WV’s very important case to LIMIT EPA’s authority to try to decarbonize our nation & Arizona-led effort to defend public charge rule,” Morrisey wrote on Twitter Saturday morning. “We are proud to lead the multi-state EPA case and be part of Arizona’s 11 state coalition.”

EPA Administrator Michael Regan took to Twitter to criticize the case.

He wrote that the EPA will continue to “advance new standards to ensure that all Americans are protected from the power plant pollution that harms public health and our economy.”

“Power plant carbon pollution hurts families and communities, and threatens businesses and workers. The Courts have repeatedly upheld EPA’s authority to regulate dangerous power plant carbon pollution,” Regan said.

Jeff Holmstead, a former assistant EPA administrator, told Reuters that the court’s agreement “will almost certainly prevent the Biden Administration from moving forward with a new rule to regulate carbon emissions from the power sector.”

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment Saturday afternoon but had not heard back by publication. This story will be updated with any response.

The Supreme Court is set to take up a case that could weaken environmental regulations. It comes just days before President Biden seeks to reassure world leaders of U.S. leadership on climate change at a global summit in Glasgow, pictured above.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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