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Supreme Court Judges Question EPA’s GHG Justification

Anthony KennedySupreme Court swing judge Anthony Kennedy (pictured) joined the four conservative justices to voice skepticism of the EPA’s arguments in its greenhouse gas regulation case.

“I couldn’t find a single precedent that supports [EPA’s] position,” Kennedy told solicitor general Donald Verrilli Jr. during oral arguments in the case on Monday. News sources including The Hill, Bloomberg and Reuters did not report what particular position Kennedy was referring to.

But the Hill calls it “notoriously dangerous” to reach conclusions based on the court’s oral arguments.

Even a vote against the EPA in this case would probably not prevent it from regulating GHGs. As EL PRO reported Monday, the scope of the case is narrow, focusing on whether whether the EPA’s regulation of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions automatically triggers a requirement that large stationary sources such as power plants also control their emissions.

That trigger, and the subsequent rule-making process, drew a pointed question from justice Samuel Alito.

“In the entire history of federal regulation, what is the best example you can give us of an agency’s doing something like this, where it has taken a statute with numbers and has crossed them out and written in the numbers it likes?” Alito asked.

Takeaway: Supreme Court judges expressed some skepticism over the EPA’s arguments in a GHG regulation case.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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