Dems file friend-of-court brief in climate case

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Dems file friend-of-court brief in climate case

A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. October 13, 2021. REUTERS Jonathan Ernst File Photo

A large group of congressional Democrats filed a U.S. Supreme Court brief on Tuesday, supporting the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under a landmark environmental law, a case that the justices will hear next month.

The 196 Democrats - 29 in the Senate and 163 in the House of Representatives - filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the litigation pursued by states including coal producer West Virginia and industry groups to curb the Clean Air Act's ability to regulate power plant carbon emissions.

The EPA said last week that the states and industry groups didn't challenge any rule on the books.

The Supreme Court, whose 6 -- 3 conservative majority has been skeptical of broad federal agency authority, is scheduled to hear arguments on the case on February 28.

The Democrats said last year Congress had affirmed the agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gases with a bipartisan vote on a bill that reversed the rollback of methane regulations that had been based on a narrow and incorrect interpretation of the EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act.

Kathy Castor, chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, said in a statement that the Environmental Protection Agency has used its authority to address air pollution, including carbon dioxide pollution, for half a century.

The Supreme Court has recognized the authority under the Clean Air Act, but now polluters and Republicans are throwing it into question with phony, cynical arguments, Castor said.

A group of states and industry groups, including coal interests, asked the Supreme Court to review a Trump-era rule that was intended to restrict regulation of carbon emissions from power plants.

The EPA's power to interpret the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants is an authority upheld by the lower court.