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US Supreme Court backs EPA carbon emission regulation for power plants

June 25, 2014
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The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the rule introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that requires new and rebuilt power plants and factories to limit their carbon dioxide emissions using the "best available technology" under the federal Clean Air Act.

The decision, which effectively supports the Obama administration's efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change, is an important victory for environmentalists, the New York Times said.

Justices backed the EPA's plans with a 7-2 majority. This is the third time the Supreme Court has upheld the use of the Clean Air Act to combat challenges posed by climate change, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Power plants and factories are required to have air quality permits from the regulator, so the EPA is right to include carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions on the list of restricted pollutants, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court. He also pointed out that the ruling grants the EPA almost everything it wanted -- the agency sought to regulate sources that account for 86 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and the court's decision grants it the right to regulate 83 percent of them.

However, the EPA's right to issue permits and restrict greenhouse gas emissions will only apply to "major polluters" and could not be expanded to include smaller businesses, the court decided.

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