On June 30, the Supreme Court released a ruling limiting the authority of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the Court, the EPA had overstepped its authority to set standards and expectations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Richard Whitman, the director of Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality agency (DEQ), said the Supreme Court’s ruling on EPA regulations would have little impact on our work in our efforts to achieve clean air and water.
History of the Supreme Court’s Ruling on EPA Regulations:
The ruling was based on issues arising from the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan enacted in 2015. The Plan’s goal was to require states to phase out of fossil fuels in the power sector and transition them to renewable energy like wind and solar. Attorneys representing Republican states’ interests sued the EPA, setting off an escalating series of cases until it reached the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided the EPA did not have the authority to enact to Clean Power Plan because Congress did not authorize it.
Oregon’s History of Clean Air and Water Regulations:
In fact, Oregon is a role model for clean air and water standards. Oregon was the first state to pass legislation to eliminate coal power in 2016, and that was just the beginning. In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed the Clean Energy For All Act (HB 2021), which requires the two largest electric utility companies in Oregon–Portland General Electric and Pacific Power–to convert to non-fossil fuel sources for 100% of their operations by 2040. The Act also bans new fossil-fuel-operating power plants from being built. That same year, Oregon’s Legislature adopted two rules to require truck manufacturers to boost the production of electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in Oregon and set more robust emissions standards on commercial vehicles that rely on fossil fuels.
This exact history and process will keep Oregon in the clear after the Supreme Court’s ruling. According to Whitman, “[the] ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court limiting EPA’s authority to regulate emissions from power plants does not directly affect the critically important work Oregon and the DEQ are doing to reduce carbon emissions in this state” because Oregon’s programs are based on authority granted by the Oregon Legislature–not the U.S. Congress.
Do you want to stay informed about developments impacting Oregon’s clean air and water?
The Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition’s mission is to enhance the livability of the Rogue Valley. We promote and educate on alternate fuels, seek to decrease dependency on petroleum, and promote clean air and water in the Rogue Valley via alternate fuels. Contact us today for more information!