EPA's Greenhouse Gas Powers Aired in Supreme Court

Updated from 12:51 a.m. EST with justices' sentiment during arguments and information about supporters of the administration's argument.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Supreme Court Monday heard arguments on an aspect of the Environmental Protection Agency's power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from single-source polluters. At least two companies are showing they are poised to take advantage of the discussion in the area of developing technologies.

Granted authority by a 2007 court decision to include greenhouse gases from motor vehicles in its oversight of pollutants from new technology under the Clean Air Act, the EPA in 2009 extended that regulation to include emissions of greenhouse gases from single-point polluters like electric plants. Existing guidelines for the issuance of permits were too strict for realistic implementation of the greenhouse gas oversight, so the EPA had to set new ones, causing some critics to say the authority was rewriting the law arbitrarily.

In accepting six petitions seeking review of the issue, the Supreme Court consolidated the arguments and limited its consideration to the narrowly defined question of "whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouses gases."

The court declined to consider several other challenges to the EPA, including whether or not the EPA had proven greenhouse gases to be a public health threat. The lead case is the Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-1146.

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