Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks An EPA Regulation That Restricts Emissions Between States

( – The Supreme Court recently wrapped up its 2023 fall term and issued a flurry of high-profile rulings. One of the decisions it handed down was regarding an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule. The court temporarily paused a controversial regulation and returned the case to the lower court.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to block the “Good Neighbor Rule.” The rule required “upwind” states to limit the air pollution that impacts “downwind” states. The agency required states to create plans to comply with the new policy, or they would become subject to the EPA’s plan. In February 2023, the agency moved forward with implementing its pollution reduction plan in 23 states after failing to submit plans.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for the majority, granting a request from West Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana to temporarily halt the regulation while a case against it winds its way through the lower courts. The Justice wrote that the court kept finding reasons to be cautious when allowing the EPA to proceed with the rule.

He continued, saying the feds “refused to say” conclusively whether the agency “would have reached the same conclusions regardless” of the states it included in the federal plan. Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett sided with the court’s liberal justices and dissented.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued a statement expressing disappointment in the Court’s decision. He pointed out that “pollution doesn’t stop at the state line.” The administrator went on to say the Good Neighbor Plan would help all states meet the air quality standards necessary to ensure Americans are healthy.

The Associated Press reported that the American Lung Association found that over 123 million Americans live in places with unhealthy ozone levels. People with compromised immune systems, kids, and older adults suffer more significant risks from elevated ozone levels.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear the case next.

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