WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court blocked a federal lawsuit Monday by states and conservation groups trying to force cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
The court said that the authority to seek reductions in emissions rests with the Environmental Protection Agency, not the courts. The ruling was 8-0.
EPA said in December that it will issue new regulations by next year concerning power plants' emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The lawsuit targeted the five largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States, four private companies and the federal Tennessee Valley Authority.
The Obama administration sided with the power companies in this case.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court, said the Clean Air Act gives the EPA authority to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants.
The landmark environmental law leaves no room for what Ginsburg described as a parallel track, "control of greenhouse gas emissions by federal judges."
On the other hand, Ginsburg said, that the states and conservation groups can go to federal court under the Clean Air Act if they object to EPA's eventual decision.
David Doniger, the Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer who represented the conservation groups, called on EPA to impose new regulations "without delay." The agency has said it will act by May 2012, although the government's brief said it is possible EPA ultimately could find "imposition of such standards inappropriate."