Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA et al. 573 U.S. ____ (2014)
On June 23, 2014, the United States Supreme Court held that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overstepped its authority under the Clean Air Act when it attempted to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources not already subject to a permit controlling emissions of more conventional pollutants. The Court reasoned the Act’s language did not compel the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from such sources and, further, that the EPA’s efforts to do so were incompatible with Congress’s intent. The Court further held, however, that stationary sources that did need a permit for their emissions of conventional pollutants could be subject to further regulation for emitting greenhouse gases. This holding likely means the greenhouse gas emissions of many hotels, offices, residential buildings, retail establishments, and similar facilities will remain immune to the Clean Air Act’s permit requirements because such sources do not typically emit conventional pollutants at sufficient levels to require a permit. Conversely, stationary sources that are required to get a permit for emitting conventional pollutants likely will also be subject to EPA regulation regarding their greenhouse gas emissions.