High court to weigh limits to EPA efforts on climate change

The Supreme Court is hearing a case its conservative majority could use to hobble Biden administration efforts to combat climate change.

The administration already is dealing with congressional refusal to enact the climate change proposals in President Joe Biden's Build Better Back plan.

Now the justices, in arguments Monday, are taking up an appeal from 19 mostly Republican-led states and coal companies over the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

The court took on the case even though there is no current EPA plan in place to deal with carbon output from power plants, a development that has alarmed environmental groups. They worry that the court could preemptively undermine whatever plan Biden's team develops to address power plant emissions. Biden has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade.

A broad ruling by the court also could weaken regulatory efforts that extend well beyond the environment, including consumer protections, workplace safety and public health. Several conservative justices have criticized what they see as the unchecked power of federal agencies.

Those concerns were evident in the court's orders throwing out two Biden administration policies aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. Last summer, the court's 6-3 conservative majority ended a pause on evictions over unpaid rent. In January, the same six justices blocked a requirement that workers at large employers be vaccinated or test regularly and wear a mask on the job.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, speaking at a recent event in Washington, cast the power plant case as about who should make the rules. "Should it be unelected bureaucrats,...

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