Jul 4, 2022 • 56M

Volts podcast: Jay Duffy on the Supreme Court's EPA decision

It's not as bad as it could be, but it's not great.

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Volts is a podcast about leaving fossil fuels behind. I've been reporting on and explaining clean-energy topics for almost 20 years, and I love talking to politicians, analysts, innovators, and activists about the latest progress in the world's most important fight. (Volts is entirely subscriber-supported. Sign up!)
Episode details

On June 30th, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling in the case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. There was a great deal of dread in the climate community in advance of the ruling, and a great deal of hyperbolic coverage in its wake. But what did it actually say?

Volts listeners will already be familiar with the case thanks to a pod I did on it a few months ago with Jack Lienke and Kirti Datla, and they will recall that it was somewhat bizarre for the court to take this case at all, since it regards a set of regulations that never were and never will be put into effect. Rather, the court seemed eager to pass judgment on the legal justification that it anticipates EPA might use when regulating greenhouse gases under Biden. It was, in other words, an advisory opinion, which the Supreme Court is not supposed to do.

Nonetheless, it took the case and now it has ruled. The headline is that the majority opinion is not as bad as many anticipated, especially in the wake of the unhinged Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. This was a Chief Justice Roberts special, carefully parsed and hedged.

To get clear on what the ruling does and doesn't actually say, I contacted one of the lawyers on the case, Jay Duffy of the Clean Air Task Force. Duffy was responsible for several of the key briefs and arguments in the case, so I thought he would have a good read, not only on what the Roberts decision says, but what it portends for subsequent cases.