U.S. Supreme Court

On the First Monday in October, the Sacketts Head to the Supreme Court a Second Time

Sackett v. EPA–the Most Important Environmental Case on the Justices’ Current Docket–Will Answer the Key Question of How Far Federal Wetlands Regulation Extends Under the Clean Water Act

Today the U.S. Supreme Court formally begins its 2022-23 Term.  First up on the justices’ docket this morning is a major environmental case: Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 21-454. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Over the past half-century, no single CWA issue has proven more contentious and …

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Animal Cruelty and Interstate Commerce

A sleeper Supreme Court case could impact state climate legislation.

A month from now, the Supreme Court will hear a case about an animal cruelty law. It’s not an environmental law case, but the ruling could impact the authority of states to address climate change. Odds are that its impact will be limited, but you can never be sure of what five Justices might decide …

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The Major Money Doctrine 

Senate passes biggest climate legislation ever.

In June, the Supreme Court trimmed EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. The Court used the “Major Question Doctrine,” which says that issues of “vast political and economic significance” must be decided by Congress.  Senate Democrats gave their response on Sunday: the Major Money Doctrine. They passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provides over …

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Will the Supreme Court Gut the Clean Water Act?

We’re about to find out in an upcoming case.

What wetlands and waterbodies does the Clean Water Act protect? Congress failed to provide a clear answer when it passed the statute, and the issue has been a bone of contention ever since.  The Biden Administration is in the process of issuing a new regulation on the subject. Normally, you’d expect the Supreme Court to …

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What the Supreme Court Left Standing

No, the Court didn’t eliminate EPA’s ability to fight climate change.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the West Virginia case left many people with the impression that it eliminated the government’s power to regulate carbon emissions. There are quite a number of areas of climate law that the Supreme Court has left untouched. Here’s the EPA authority the Court hasn’t touched: EPA’s jurisdiction over greenhouse gases.  …

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Declaring a Climate Change Emergency: A Citizen’s Guide

Would it be legal to declare a national emergency for climate change? Would it be useful? Here’s what you need to know.

Based on press reports, it now seems likely that Biden will soon declare climate change to be a national emergency.  Would this be legal? Would it unlock important powers that could be used to fight climate change?  My answers are: It would probably be legal, and it would unlock some significant powers. But an emergency …

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Climate Change and the Major Question Doctrine

Just because a regulation involves climate change, that doesn’t make it a major question.

Red State AGs are preparing to go to town with the West Virginia case. They seem to think that everything involving climate change automatically becomes a major question. That’s simply wrong. The doctrine is more nuanced. Recall that the Supreme Court struck down OSHA’s vaccine mandate, essentially on major questions grounds, but the majority found …

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Emerging Answers to Major Questions

We’re beginning to get a clearer understanding of the major questions doctrine.

In November, I wrote a post posing “some major questions about the major questions doctrine.” In West Virginia v. EPA, Chief Justice Roberts starts supplying some answers to those questions. In particular, he seems to be   using a narrower four-factor approach to decide what constitutes a “major question.” As we all know, the West Virginia case …

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West Virginia v. EPA: A Quick Explainer

This video lays out the issues, what the Court did, and where EPA can go from here.

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EPA’s Best Option: Co-Firing

Yesterday’s decision leaves open a powerful regulatory tool.

What can EPA do to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants after yesterday’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA?  The decision clearly ruled out any direct mandate to shift generation from coal generators to cleaner power generators. But the Supreme Court didn’t endorse Trump’s ultra-limited interpretation of the law either.  This leaves EPA with …

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