SCOTUS Prepares To Rule On EPA Ozone Rule

On Wednesday, the highest court in the land will hear arguments from a coalition of energy corporations and three states headed by Republicans who want to block an EPA regulation to reduce ozone emissions, which might worsen air pollution in neighboring states.

The challengers asked the Supreme Court to halt enforcement in an October emergency request immediately, but the court declined. Instead, they listen to arguments first, including those questioning the efficacy of the emissions limits outlined in the EPA regulation.

The federal government has established a scheme to reduce emissions from polluting industries in certain states.

The Obama administration completed a regulation governing 23 upwind states’ exposure to ozone—a primary ingredient in smog—in June and is now at the center of the current controversy. The “Good Neighbor” clause of the Clean Air Act requires measures to reduce pollution that passes into downwind states; the EPA ruled that these states’ plans did not fulfill this criterion.

Several states and companies are attempting to circumvent the EPA’s proposal to restrict ozone emissions from upwind states. West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, 

Kinder Morgan, power producers, U.S. Steel Corp., regional power providers, and energy trade groups impacted by the regulation have taken legal action in a case before the court. Claiming the EPA had broken a federal statute to guarantee reasonable agency conduct, they took their case to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Justice Department argued on behalf of the EPA before the Supreme Court, stating that the regulation would have far-reaching consequences for states downwind from the source of pollution and that doing so would endanger the public’s health.

To expand the Good Neighbor plan’s reach to five more states—Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, and Tennessee—the EPA unveiled a proposed regulation on January 16.