US Supreme Court curbs federal power over carbon emissions

The US Supreme Court on Thursday imposed limits on the federal government's authority to issue sweeping regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants in a ruling that will undermine President Joe Biden's plans to transform climate policy.

The court's 6-3 ruling restricted the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal and gas-fired power plants under the landmark Clean Air Act anti-pollution law. Biden's administration is currently working on new regulations.

The Supreme Court's six conservatives were in the majority in the decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, with the three liberals dissenting .

The EPA and White House said that administration lawyers are analysing the decision and seeking ways to address emissions under existing laws.

The decision will constrain the EPA's ability to issue any regulations on power plants that push for an ambitious national shift in energy policy toward renewable sources.

The ruling is likely to have implications beyond the EPA as it raises new legal questions about any big decisions made by federal agencies. The Supreme Court's conservative majority has signalled ongoing scepticism toward expansive federal regulatory authority. Conservative legal activists have long advocated reducing agency power.