ADMINISTRATIVE LAW-DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY

July 25th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 3268 (S. Ct. June 30, 2022) (Roberts, C.J.)  The Clean Air Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate power plants by setting a “standard of performance” for their emission of certain pollutants into the air. 84 Stat. 1683, 42 U. S. C. §7411(a)(1). That standard may be different for new and existing plants, but in each case it must reflect the “best system of emission reduction” that the Agency has determined to be “adequately demonstrated” for the particular category. §§7411(a)(1)(b)(1)(d). For existing plants, the States then implement that requirement by issuing rules restricting emissions from sources within their borders.  Since passage of the Act 50 years ago, EPA has exercised this authority by setting performance standards based on measures that would reduce pollution by causing plants to operate more cleanly. In 2015, however, EPA issued a new rule concluding that the “best system of emission reduction” for existing coal-fired power plants included a requirement that such facilities reduce their own production of electricity, or subsidize increased generation by natural gas, wind, or solar sources.  The question before us is whether this broader conception of EPA’s authority is within the power granted to it by the Clean Air Act. Given these circumstances,  our precedent counsels skepticism toward EPA’s claim that Section 111 empowers it to devise carbon emissions caps based on a generation shifting approach. To overcome that skepticism, the Government must—under the major questions doctrine—point to “clear congressional authorization” to regulate in that manner. Utility Air, 573 U. S., at 324, 134 S. Ct. 2427, 189 L. Ed. 2d 372. Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible “solution to the crisis of the day.” New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 187, 112 S. Ct. 2408, 120 L. Ed. 2d 120 (1992). But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme in Section 111(d). A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is reversed, and the cases are remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]