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The EPA prepares for its 'counterpunch' after the Supreme Court ruling

EPA Administrator Michael Regan says the Supreme Court's ruling is a setback for the agency.
Joshua Roberts
/
Getty Images
EPA Administrator Michael Regan says the Supreme Court's ruling is a setback for the agency.

The Supreme Court's ruling that curbs the power of the Environment Protection Agency will slow its ability to respond to the climate crisis, but "does not take the EPA out of the game," according to the agency's administrator Michael Regan.

The Court on Thursday ruled that the EPA does not have the authority to set limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants.

Regan labeled the move a setback and said it made the U.S. less competitive globally.

"Over the past 18 months or so, [the EPA] has done a really good job of focusing on the full suite of climate pollutants," he said. "Power plants play a significant role in this larger picture and that's why the Supreme Court's ruling is disappointing, because it's slowing down the momentum of not only curtailing climate change impacts, but the globally competitive aspects that this country can seize to create jobs and grow economic opportunities."

President Biden has set a goal for an emissions-free power sector by 2035 and yesterday said the ruling was "another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards."

"While this decision risks damaging our nation's ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis," he said in a statement.

The court ruled the EPA does not have the authority to set limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants.
David McNew / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
The court ruled the EPA does not have the authority to set limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants.

Regan said the EPA was taking time to review the ruling and he called on Americans to speak out.

"When we see the setbacks, we will take these punches, absorb them, but then come back with a counterpunch," he said. "We're going to move forward with every legal authority to regulate climate pollution and protect communities that we have."

"Rulings like yesterday prevent us from moving forward as quickly as we would like. So Americans should use their voices as much as possible to ensure that we can move forward and do the things that the American people would like for us to do."

The Biden administration came into office with the most ambitious climate agenda of any president, including the pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of this decade, based on 2005 levels.

Regan wouldn't be drawn on whether there could be ripple effects on the rest of the world's ability to fight the effects of climate change if the U.S. failed to meet its own targets, and instead focused on the work the EPA had already achieved.

But he did say the court's ruling was a hurdle on meeting those targets.

"The Court's ruling, obviously, puts a speed bump in the path of the important work that this agency and other agencies would like to pursue. We will continue to keep our eye on the Court now and in the future."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.