SCOTUS votes to rein regulatory powers by Environmental Protection Agency
HOUSTON - In a 6-3 decision, the nation's highest court voted to reign in the regulatory powers of the Environmental Protection Agency when it comes to reducing carbon emissions in the production of electricity.
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Local and National environmental leaders called the ruling a "dangerous" setback in the battle against air contamination and climate change.
"This is certainly a step in the direction of eroding the EPA's power and we need the EPA to have the authority to protect our communities from contaminants in our environment. We are not getting that level of protection at the state here in Texas," said Jackie Medcalf with the Texas Health and Environment Alliance.
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But according to experts, the conservative majority on the high court ruled that Congress, in this case, had essentially abdicated its responsibility and delegated too much authority to the EPA.
"If they (Congress) are not doing their jobs, what happens? Now the court is saying, you know, we are not going to let the agencies fill in the gaps anymore," said Victor Flatt, Director of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Center at the University of Houston.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed the decision saying, "The Supreme Court's ruling to curtail the EPA's war against fossil fuels is a major victory for our state and the livelihoods of hard-working Texans."
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Not so much says Professor Flatt, pointing to a vast increase in cost-effective, low-emission natural gas and renewable generation already in place in the Lone Star State.
"The bigger implication for Texas, more long term, is a bigger story about how the EPA (and other agencies) ability to regulate as extensively as they see necessary to address a problem," said Flatt.
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And it's the potential for even more dilution of regulatory authority which worries those advocating for cleaner air and water.
"This is a setback for the environmental community, but we have faced them before, and we have to keep pushing forward," said Medcalf.