July 03, 2024 | E&E News | 1 minute read

In a recent string of decisions, the US Supreme Court has arguably limited the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to curb carbon emissions and climate change.

Bracewell partner Jeff Holmstead, who led the EPA’s air office under President George W. Bush, tells E&E News that the Supreme Court is not operating in a vacuum.

There’s no doubt the court has expressed skepticism about agency power and authority — or claims off authority,” said Holmstead. “But I think part of the reason for that is in recent years, EPA has been much more aggressive than it has been in the past.”

The court will continue to take up challenges to environmental regulations during its next term, including a Utah case that centers on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

According to Holmstead, the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case could speed up NEPA reviews for oil and gas projects and hasten the process for renewable energy development. The court could use the NEPA battle as an opportunity to prompt Congress to take action, rather than leaving decision-making to federal agencies.

“That would mean the environmental community wouldn’t get everything it wants, but it means they would get durable laws,” said Holmstead.