Small Victory for Indiana’s Coal Burning Power Plant

INDIANA, (WOWO): The U.S. Supreme Court handed a small victory to Indiana's coal burning power plants by blocking the Obama administration from imposing certain restrictions on greenhouse gases.


The Court ruled 5-to-4 that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot change the emissions threshold for greenhouse gases released by certain industries. However, the court continued to allow the EPA to require controls for the gases that cause climate change in some industries as they expand or modernize.

In 2009, the EPA ruled that carbon emissions were a danger to public health and, therefore could be regulated by the EPA. The challenge came from Indiana and several other states when the agency attempted to expand regulations on car emissions to power plants, refineries and other businesses. The rule would have required those businesses to obtain federal permits when modifying or building new facilities, bringing them under regulations of the Clean Air Act.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, ruled that only Congress and not the EPA could move existing businesses into the Clean Air Act program based on their greenhouse gas emissions. But Scalia also wrote that EPA still has the authority “to regulate 83-percent” of those emissions, and that a ruling in the agency's favor would have only raised that percentage to 86-percent.

Governor Pence and Attorney General Greg Zoeller have been among state officials critical of the EPA's attempt to regulate emissions, since more than 80-percent of Indiana's electricity is generated by plants that burn coal – which generate the most carbon emissions of any power source.