statutory construction

Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, American Chemistry Council v. EPA, Energy-Intensive Manufacturers v. EPA, Southeastern Legal Foundation v. EPA, Texas v. EPA, Chamber of Comm. v. EPA, 12-1146, 12-1248, 12-1254, 12-1268, 12-1269, 12-1272 (Consolidated)

Issues: 

Does the Environmental Protection Agency have authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions?

Following the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, the EPA began regulating greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources, such as cars and trucks. The categorization of greenhouse gases an an “air pollutant” under the Clean Air Act automatically triggered the regulation of stationary sources, such as factories, through the EPA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V permit programs. However, because the new regulatory framework easily triggered EPA oversight for low levels of emissions, the EPA decided to increase the threshold emissions level for greenhouse gases. Petitioners, including various states and industry groups, assert that the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources expands the scope of the Act beyond Congress’s original intent. Accordingly, Petitioners argue that the EPA lacks authority for this regulation. The EPA responds that because greenhouse gases are plainly air pollutants, the agency has the statutory authority to regulate them. Moreover, the EPA contends that this reading of the Act conforms with Congress’s intent to give the EPA broad discretion in regulating air pollution to protect public health and welfare. The Supreme Court’s determination of whether the EPA may continue to regulate greenhouse gases under these programs will significantly impact the United States’ approach to climate change.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

After this Court decided Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that its promulgation of motor vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards under Title II of the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. § 7521(a)(1), compelled regulation of carbon dioxide and other GHGs under the CAA's Title I prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) and Title V stationary-source permitting programs. Even though EPA determined that including GHGs in these programs would vastly expand the programs contrary to Congress's intent, EPA adopted rules adding GHGs to the pollutants covered. The panel below held the CAA and Massachusetts compelled inclusion of GHGs and, based on that holding, dismissed all petitions to review the GHG permitting program rules on standing grounds. The questions presented are: 

  1. Whether Massachusetts compelled EPA to in-clude GHGs in the PSD and Title V programs when inclusion of GHGs would (i) transform the size and scope of these programs into something that EPA found would be "unrecognizable to ... Congress," Petition Appendix 345a, 380a, and (ii) expand the PSD program to cover a substance that does not deteriorate the quality of the air that people breathe. 
  2. Whether dismissal of the petitions to review EPA's GHG permit-program rules was inconsistent with this Court's standing jurisprudence where the panel premised its holding that standing was absent on its merits holding that GHGs are regulated "pursuant to automatic operation of the CAA." Id. at 96a. 

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Facts

After the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, categorizing greenhouse gases (GHG) as an “air pollutant” and therefore subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began regulating GHGs.

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Bond v. United States

Issues: 

Do the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses, read in connection with the treaty power, allow a statute that was enacted by Congress to enforce a treaty to serve as a valid basis for prosecuting a criminal defendant in Federal District Court?

Petitioner Carol Anne Bond was arrested in 2007 for attempts to poison a romantic rival, which culminated in a minor burn to the rival’s thumb. A federal district court sentenced Bond to six years in prison and five years of supervised release, and ordered her to pay a fine and make restitution, under the authority of the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act. Congress passed that statute to implement an international arms-control agreement to prohibit chemical warfare. Bond challenged her conviction, claiming the statute’s application to her domestic conduct exceeded Congress’ limited and enumerated powers. In reviewing her challenge, the Third Circuit held that Congress’ power to implement treaties validated the statute and Bond’s conviction. The Supreme Court’s ruling in this case will affect not only how broadly federal criminal statutes apply, but also the scope of Congress’ authority to implement treaties.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 
  1. Whether the Constitution’s structural limits on federal authority impose any constraints on the scope of Congress’ authority to enact legislation to implement a valid treaty, at least in circumstances where the federal statute, as applied, goes far beyond the scope of the treaty, intrudes on traditional state prerogatives, and is concededly unnecessary to satisfy the government’s treaty obligations; and
  2. whether the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, 18 U.S.C. § 229, can be interpreted not to reach ordinary poisoning cases, which have been adequately handled by state and local authorities since the Framing, in order to avoid the difficult constitutional questions involving the scope of and continuing vitality of this Court’s decision in Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416 (1920).

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Facts

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Horne v. Flores (08-289) and Speaker of the Arizona House v. Flores (08-294) (consolidated)

Oral argument: Apr. 20, 2009

Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (Feb. 22, 2008)

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