SCOTUS presses pause on implementation of EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan

The U.S. Supreme Court put an important air pollution plan on hold today that would have limited air pollution in about a dozen states while a lower court rules on a challenge to the plan. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Good Neighbor Plan restricts smokestack emissions and industrial emissions that can burden downwind areas outside […]

SCOTUS presses pause on implementation of EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan

The U.S. Supreme Court put an important air pollution plan on hold today that would have limited air pollution in about a dozen states while a lower court rules on a challenge to the plan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Good Neighbor Plan restricts smokestack emissions and industrial emissions that can burden downwind areas outside of the state’s boundaries.

States like Wisconsin and Connecticut have argued that they struggle to meet federal ozone standards because of air pollution from neighboring states. The Good Neighbor Plan essentially attempts to address that.

With the stay in place that prevents enforcement of the rule, the case is now being sent back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The case stems from the 2015 revision of the EPA’s air quality standards for ozone. Once those standards were revised, states had to submit new implementation plans for how they would meet those standards. 

Later on, the EPA rejected about 20 of those states’ implementation plans because the regulators claimed they had failed to adequately address obligations under the Good Neighbor Provision. While 20 of the states had their plans rejected, that number was reduced over time.

States and companies like Kinder Morgan challenged the EPA’s actions.

The majority opinion found that the emissions standards set in the EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan would harm the states unless implementation was paused pending a lower court decision.

The Supreme Court blocked the EPA’s ability to enforce the rule on a 5-4 split with Justice Neil Gorsuch penning the majority opinion. Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the dissenting opinion and was joined by justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Katanji Brown Jackson dissenting.

“Here, the federal government announced its intention to reject over 20 States’ plans for controlling ozone pollution. In their place, the government sought to impose a single, uniform federal plan,” Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.

Environmental advocates argue that the Supreme Court’s decision will lead to dirtier air. 

“In a hot summer of dangerous smog around the country, this decision means that Americans will be breathing dirtier, unhealthy air,” Christophe Courchesne, director of the Environmental Advocacy Clinic at Vermont Law and Graduate School, said in a press release. “The court gave polluting industries a free pass before their challenges have even been fully heard by lower courts, an extraordinary reversal of the standard process for challenging pollution regulations. The litigation over these well-supported rules will continue, and the courts should ultimately uphold them.”

Barrett wrote that blocking the enforcement of the Good Neighbor Rule “grants emergency relief in a fact intensive and highly technical case without fully engaging with both the relevant law and the voluminous record.”

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

The two issues passed were only a fraction of what Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had on her special session agenda.
House votes to pass bill for fire relief, behavioral health treatments

House votes to pass bill for fire relief, behavioral health treatments

The House voted overwhelmingly to pass HB 1, the appropriations bill that provides funding for the special session, fire relief and behavioral health court…
Senate Democrats criticize bills and process, GOP introduces bills

Senate Democrats criticize bills and process, GOP introduces bills

The special session began with Democrats criticizing Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s agenda and Republicans applauding it, while Senators introduced 16 pieces of legislation. The…
Downwinders continue to seek justice 79 years after the Trinity Test

Downwinders continue to seek justice 79 years after the Trinity Test

For most of his life, Paul Pino believed his community had dodged the bullet when it came to nuclear fallout. It wasn’t until he’d…
Fight continues over San Juan Generating Station replacement resources

Fight continues over San Juan Generating Station replacement resources

As the San Juan Generating Station closed in 2022, the Central Consolidated School District noted a significant increase in homelessness among its students. At…
Group says WQCC member has conflicts of interest

Group says WQCC member has conflicts of interest

New Energy Economy and other environmental advocates renewed a call for a member of the Water Quality Control Commission to recuse herself from hearing…
Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $8.3 million for childhood development and youth services in the 1st congressional district through federal community project funding. Stansbury,…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

A recent report by KFF, a foundation that provides health policy analysis, found mental health issues on the rise and disparities in mental health…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Heinrich files amendment to protect reproductive rights for the military

Heinrich files amendment to protect reproductive rights for the military

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich filed an amendment on Tuesday to codify a rule protecting veteran access to abortion in the case of rape, incest…
Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the high court overturned another long-standing precedent on Friday that could undue both…
Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

The Supreme Court punted on Thursday on a second abortion decision it heard this term, leaving open the question of whether a federal law…
Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the high court overturned another long-standing precedent on Friday that could undue both…
Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

The Supreme Court punted on Thursday on a second abortion decision it heard this term, leaving open the question of whether a federal law…
Biden will protect reproductive access, Health Secretary says during a multi-state reproductive access tour 

Biden will protect reproductive access, Health Secretary says during a multi-state reproductive access tour 

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at a Planned Parenthood space for LGBTQ youth in Albuquerque that if President Joe Biden…
Politics Newsletter: Should Biden stay or should he go?

Politics Newsletter: Should Biden stay or should he go?

Note: This newsletter was written prior to the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump on Saturday. Hello fellow political junkies! While most people…
NM delegation votes against bill they say will disenfranchise voters

NM delegation votes against bill they say will disenfranchise voters

The House passed a bill that opponents of the bill, including all three members of New Mexico’s delegation, say would suppress voting. The Safeguard…
Leger Fernàndez votes against voter ID bill

Leger Fernàndez votes against voter ID bill

The Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act seeks to require proof of United States citizenship to register to vote in federal elections, but opponents say…
Heinrich, Vasquez call on Biden to withdraw from campaign

Heinrich, Vasquez call on Biden to withdraw from campaign

The U.S. Senator and congressman each said Joe Biden should step aside for a new candidate. Meanwhile, another of the state's representatives backed Biden.
Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

The two issues passed were only a fraction of what Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had on her special session agenda.
Special session to start, despite legislative opposition

Special session to start, despite legislative opposition

“We’re asking lawmakers to do right by New Mexico, to do right by all of our cities and counties and to create the kind…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report