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Policy Integrity Staff Attend Supreme Court Oral Arguments on EPA PSD Permitting Case

Policy Integrity director, Richard Revesz, legal director, Jason Schwartz, and legal fellow Denise Grab were at the Supreme Court today to hear oral arguments in the case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) program.

In an amicus brief we filed in January, we pointed out that for more than 30 years, and through rulemakings under five different presidential administrations, EPA has consistently interpreted PSD permitting to apply to all pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act. That argument was mentioned by the government’s representative.

Industry and state petitioners are challenging a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases under PSD, which applies to large, stationary sources of air pollutants, such as electric power plants, factories, and oil refineries, that are new or undergoing modifications in relatively unpolluted areas.

The PSD program works in concert with other provisions of the Clean Air Act to strike a careful balance between the regulation of existing sources and the regulation of new or modified sources. Industry’s interpretations of the PSD requirements would create inconsistencies with other programs under the Clean Air Act, like the New Source Performance Standards, and could increase the amount of pollution stemming unchecked from older, dirtier, so-called “grandfathered” sources.