Jul 1, 2022

Supreme Court curbs EPA’s power on emissions Transcript

Supreme Court curbs EPA's power on emissions Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsEmissionsSupreme Court curbs EPA’s power on emissions Transcript

Environmental advocates say the ruling in the EPA case is a blow in the fight against climate change and will hamper the Biden administration’s environmental agenda. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1: (00:00)
And as we said, 19 Republican lead states were a part of the legal challenge to the EPA. Let’s turn now to the person I just mentioned. He is West Virginia’s Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey. He led the national coalition at the Supreme Court. Mr. Attorney General, I don’t know if you were able to hear the EPA administrator, but I just want to ask you first, how much of a victory is this today for electric power generation for the power plants in this country?

Patrick Morrisey: (00:29)
Look, I think it’s a big victory for the rule of law. And I did have the chance to listen to the administrator. And I guess what I would say back is a lot of people are saying, “Tonight, the sky is falling. The sky is falling.” But people have to take into account that the EPA never had this authority in the first place. There were big promises made over the last decade in terms of what type of initiatives the EPA was going to advance to fight climate change. But we always knew that the EPA only had a narrow sliver of authority to regulate carbon emissions. What I would say to Americans watching tonight is that this decision is not about climate change. It’s really about a very simple proposition. Who gets to make the major decisions of the day? Should it be unelected bureaucrats, seizing power that has not been delegated to them?

Patrick Morrisey: (01:24)
Or should it be Congress? We’ve always argued that it’s Congress, because that way, whether you’re New York or West Virginia, or Texas or Nebraska, or any of the states across the nation, you’re going to have a seat at the table and you’re going to have the people’s representatives making a choice. And that’s what this case is all about. And it’s just disappointing to hear a lot of people try to characterize it in some other way. They never had the authority, we knew that from the beginning when we saw the case. I’ve been working on this since 2013, but it’s critical now to understand that so that the debate will likely shift to Congress. But even more importantly, I think people know now there’s a broader tool in place to go after federal overreach whenever it emerges.

Speaker 1: (02:10)
Well, what we just heard from Administrator Reagan and what we’ve heard from others is that the authority to regulate is still there. It’s just that the amount of flexibility is different. Do you acknowledge that there are still steps that the government can take as necessary to make sure that the power plant industry, that the energy industry broadly, is being careful when it comes to protecting the environment?

Patrick Morrisey: (02:41)
Well, most certainly there will be authorities that are available under the Clean Air Act and that won’t change from today. So we’ve always argued that over the past number of years. In fact, we’ve argued that the EPA does have a narrow ability to regulate for carbon emissions. But I think folks watching need to understand what this administration has done is they’re trying to change the fundamental mission of many of the federal agencies out there. If you’re not only the EPA, but you’re the HHS or you’re the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Energy, the Department of Labor, the Biden Administration is asking everyone to change their mission and become more of an environmental regulator. And that’s just not the way our constitution works.

Patrick Morrisey: (03:27)
Agencies need to comport with the limits that Congress provides to them and what we’ve seen with the Biden Administration and others as well, that they have gone so far afield from that statutory authority. I think that’s why the court reigned them in today. And I think you’re going to see more effort to ensure that the Biden Administration respects the rule of law, our constitution, and the separation of powers. This is a big win for the people of America because now their elected representatives will have a clear voice.

Speaker 1: (04:02)
Two other quick points, Mr. Attorney General. Justice Kegan in her dissenting opinion today pointed out. She said, “Congress has told the EPA.” She said, “To use the best system of regulation.” So that there was direction from the Congress and there was leeway. And there’s now been clarification of how much leeway, but in other words, there’s still advisory from the Congress to the agency to do the best it can to make sure these emissions are as clean as possible.

Patrick Morrisey: (04:37)
Well, look, I think no one is arguing, this is not about having efficiencies or clean air. In fact, everyone supports it. Once again, this is not a case about climate change or hamstring a federal agency. It’s about ensuring that when a federal agency acts, it’s comporting to the limits that Congress prescribes for them. So the EPA still has certain tools to move forward, but what they don’t have the ability to do is on these major questions of the day, where there’s vast economic or political significance. They can’t proceed on the basis of maybe some ambiguous language and then try to rewrite the nation’s power grid. They can’t do that. That’s what they tried to do under the Clean Power Plan. And obviously they’ve talked about doing things that are not feasible today in terms of trying to have a hundred million people on the power grid for electric cars and not only finishing to wipe out coal and get rid of half of natural gas.

Patrick Morrisey: (05:35)
Some of what they’re trying to accomplish, they clearly don’t have the legal authority to do. So what I would ask people to do, don’t promise your constituents things you can’t deliver. Work within the constitutional systems in order to deliver things that are good for the people. And I think that you’ll find a lot of folks care deeply. A lot of West Virginia is about clean air and clean water, but we have to make sure we respect our constitutional system and that’s what today’s case stands for.

Speaker 1: (06:03)
And I’m sorry, I’m not having time to pose to you the question that the administrator recommended at the end. He said to mention the fact that he hope you and others realize the markets have already spoken. They want the power industry to move in a clear direction.

Patrick Morrisey: (06:18)
The markets responded because the government put a gun to their head and said the regulations are coming to wipe you out. So people forget about that. Government should never possess that kind of power to be abusive. That’s why we fought back.

Speaker 1: (06:33)
The attorney general for the state of West Virginia, Mr. Morrisey. Thank you very much for joining us.

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