Three vital business interests at stake in the upcoming Supreme Court climate case

In early 2022, the Supreme Court will hear West Virginia v. EPA, a case with crucial implications for addressing the climate crisis. Some might think a Supreme Court case about the Clean Power Plan – a 2015 rule that never went into effect – is of little concern to American businesses.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Petitioners in this case, i.e., the coal industry and its state allies, seek outcomes that would have far-reaching impacts for companies across the economy.

This case, scheduled for oral argument on February 28, has at least three major implications for U.S. businesses:

  1. Regulatory certainty. In their briefs, the Petitioners ask the Court to depart from decades of established legal precedent and require that expert rules of significance be subjected to new levels of judicial review. This would fundamentally alter the predictable and transparent system by which courts review expert agency action. In the most extreme outcomes of what the petitioners seek, similar limitations could broadly be applied to laws that have long protected people and businesses, undermining the predictability of vital services and disrupting the stable system of regulations that companies rely on to make investment decisions.
  • Climate commitments. Across the economy, companies are setting ambitious goals to cut climate pollution and transition to clean energy. Those targets cannot be achieved without policies that drive down emissions at scale from major sectors including electric power and transportation. The Petitioners in this case argue that tight restrictions be put around the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s efforts to address climate change, thus curtailing EPA’s ability to implement the very policies that businesses rely on to help them meet their climate goals.
  • Climate risk. The Petitioners in the case aim to restrict EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which would gut the government’s power to fight climate change and protect public health. Businesses are seeing firsthand how the impacts of climate change are affecting everything from their supply chain to their daily operations. Limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate emissions would exacerbate the climate crisis and increase the costs and risks associated with its impacts.
Project Manager, EDF+Business

In short, the petitioners seek an outcome that would hamstring the U.S. government’s ability to respond effectively to the climate crisis, create a myriad of disruptions for American businesses and jeopardize our nation’s economic health. This is more than cause for concern; it’s cause for urgent action.

To learn more about the case and how you can get involved: