Michael Bastasch, DCNF
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected attempts to appeal a lower court decision issued in 2017 striking down Obama-era global warming policies. The lower court’s ruling was written by the newly confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The justices privately made the decision to not rehear the case before Kavanaugh joined the high court Tuesday, Reuters reported. Kavanaugh was officially sworn in as an associate justice at the White House on Monday night.
Kavanaugh’s 2017 decision for the D.C. Circuit Court struck down Obama administration regulations on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a greenhouse gas, because such rules ran afoul of federal law.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposed regulations on HFCs in 2015 as part of the U.S.’s plan to fight global warming through the Montreal Protocol. HFCs are a greenhouse gas, but are not ozone-depleting chemicals.
“Here, EPA has tried to jam a square peg into a round hole” by trying to regulate HFCs without approval from Congress, Kavanaugh ruled, adding that “[c]limate change is not a blank check for the President.”
The Obama administration tried to regulate HFCs under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy meant for ozone-depleting substance, prompting Kavanaugh to rule in favor of two companies that manufacture products that use HFCs.
The Natural Resources Defense Council and major manufacturers, including Honeywell International, appealed Kavanaugh’s decision to the Supreme Court. Had the court taken up the case, Kavanaugh would have sat out.
Honeywell International and other companies wanted EPA to phase out HFCs because they were already developing products with alternative chemicals. Regulations on HFCs would give those companies a competitive edge by restricting competing products.
The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court not to hear the case since it’s reconsidering HFC regulations and agrees with Kavanaugh’s 2017 decision.
Democrats cited Kavanaugh’s HFC decision as one of the reasons he should not be confirmed to the high court.
“Replacing Kennedy with Kavanaugh would swing the Court to a new, hard-right majority that would rule against curbing greenhouse gases for years — maybe decades — that we can’t afford to waste on inaction,” former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in September.
“It’s urgent that we act to curb climate change — and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court could make progress virtually impossible,” Clinton said.
However, the high court decided not to hear appeals to the HFC decision before Kavanaugh joined the court on Tuesday.