Supreme Court EPA Ruling Watched Closely by Agricultural Interests

Web AdminFlorida Grower

By Frank Giles
EPA Ruling

The Supreme Court of the United States has made some consequential judgements during its latest term. Among them on the last day of June, was its ruling on the case — West Virginia vs. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The case has been watched closely by many industries, including agriculture, because it took up the question of the scope of power the EPA has when it comes regulating industries as a whole. The 6-3 ruling found that the Clean Air Act does not give EPA broad authority to regulate power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA Ruling

The ruling majority said EPA does not have the authority to force an entire industry to transition from coal power to generate electricity. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the Court: “A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.”

EPA Ruling
Nikki Fried

Environmental groups blasted the EPA ruling, suggesting it will slow progress in the fight against climate change. However, industry groups were watching the case closely for fear that it could set precedent for EPA to make declarations that could be applied to entire industries had it won the case. With agriculture already under much scrutiny from EPA, the ruling was consequential.

At the time of this posting, major farm groups had not made any statements on the ruling, but the general feeling is EPA with less blanket authority is a positive. However, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a statement in opposition of the ruling. She noted: “Today’s decision to restrict EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is a dangerous setback. We’re in a race against time to minimize and avoid the host of calamities that will ensue if we fail to act on climate change. Florida is ground zero for climate change — we are already seeing more destructive storms, extreme heat, and sea level rise. It’s up to all of us to mitigate these impacts, which is why I’ve proposed one of the boldest climate change mitigation plans in Florida’s history as well as setting new statewide renewable energy goals aimed at increasing the amounts of renewable energy used by the state on an incremental basis until reaching 100% by 2050.”