Source: Bloomberg Law, Texas Lawyer
While the Environmental Protection Agency may have been prepared for the Supreme Court’s recent decision in West Virginia v. EPA—which found the agency does not have direct authorization to regulate under the Clean Air Act on an industry-wide basis—the ruling certainly makes EPA efforts to mitigate climate impacts more difficult. And that’s not the agency’s only challenge, according to Pillsbury partner Anne Austin.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg Law, Austin notes that in addition to this new layer of checks and balances, EPA efforts may be hindered by the still pending Senate confirmation of an Office of Air and Radiation leader, limited agency staffing, and the general urgency to make meaningful progress on climate goals before President Biden’s first presidential term concludes.
“The [EPA] lawyers are probably frustrated,” said Austin. “I would imagine that, under the current administration, they’ve been told, ‘Go big or go home, we need to regulate greenhouse gases,’ and now they have to deal with this significant set of parameters that have been placed around the EPA.”
In a separate Q&A with Texas Lawyer about the ruling, Austin also highlighted the broader impact the High Court’s ruling could have on federal agencies’ statutory authority.
“The ruling itself is limited to EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act, but the court’s discussion of agency overreach into major questions that ought to be addressed by Congress will likely lead agencies, such as the SEC and FERC, to reconsider their current regulatory and legal strategies for pending and future rulemakings,” she noted.