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Attorney General Alan Wilson, 19-State Petition Urges Supreme Court to Limit EPA Authority, Protect Jobs

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – May 3, 2021 – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is part of a 19-state coalition that on Thursday sent a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to take swift action to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority and protect jobs. The petition asks the Court to overturn an appeals court ruling that would give the EPA virtually unlimited power to regulate wide swaths of everyday life with rules that would devastate coal mining, increase energy costs and eliminate countless jobs.

The coalition argues the lower court erred in using a small provision of federal law to grant EPA broad authority – without congressional input – to unilaterally decarbonize virtually any sector of the economy, including factories and power plants, as well as the millions of homes and small businesses that use natural gas for heat.

Many members of the coalition previously prevailed in urging the Supreme Court to block a similar attempt by President Obama, and now it cites that victory and the insurmountable costs of President Biden’s proposals in arguing for the Supreme Court to step in and define the reach of EPA’s authority once and for all.

Without the Supreme Court’s intervention, the coalition argues the unlawful ruling could set a devastating standard and lead to decisions of great economic consequence based upon unlawful EPA regulations, not the rule of law.

“We made this same argument a few years ago and the Supreme Court said we were right, but the EPA backed down so there was never a final ruling. Now, we’re back fighting this unconstitutional power grab,” Attorney General Wilson said. “I want a clean environment for my children just like everyone else, but plans and rules to keep the environment safe have to follow the Constitution. Last time we checked, unelected agency bureaucrats don’t make the law.”

The coalition’s petition, filed Thursday, argues a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit violates the constitutional separation of powers. It contends the lower court inappropriately interpreted Section 111 of the Clean Air Act as authorizing EPA to sidestep Congress to exercise broad regulatory power that would radically transform the nation’s energy grid and force states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation.

The petition also contends the appeals court ignored a February 2016 stay instituted by the Supreme Court, which the coalition argues should have hinted that the high court viewed existing law as limiting EPA’s authority – not expanding it.

The petition further cites a prior case, Michigan v. EPA, as an example of when perception of EPA’s power amid pending litigation forced regulated entities to comply with regulations that the Supreme Court eventually deemed unlawful.

The coalition argues that if market forces could have been shaped so dramatically amid a pending case, delaying review will likely lead to even more significant and irreparable change.

South Carolina joined Thursday’s West Virginia-led petition with support from attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and the governor of Mississippi.

Read a copy of the petition here.