By GREG STOHR
The US Supreme Court partially upheld one of President Barack
Obamas early efforts against climate change, saying the
al Protection Agency
had authority to impose new permitting requirements on some
power plants and factories.
The permitting rules apply when facilities are built or
expanded. They are separate from the administrations
more comprehensive climate-change regulations, including the
plan released June 2 to cut carbon emissions
from existing plants by
as much as 25% over 15 years.
The Supreme Court gave the EPA a preliminary victory in
October, refusing to consider arguments that would have
barred the agency from addressing climate change at all. That
left states and business groups fighting the permit rules,
which they said may ultimately affect millions of facilities,
including bakeries and apartment complexes.
Todays ruling, which splintered the court, may head off
that possibility, limiting the rules to a few hundred facilities
that already have to
get permits for other pollutants. The justices said
by themselves cant
serve as the trigger for a permit requirement.
The permitting requirements are part of the EPAs
Prevention of Significant Deterioration program under the
Clean Air Act. Under that program, facilities
must install the best
to control emissions
from new or modified
major sources of air pollution.
The effect of the permitting program so far has been limited.
Since 2011, 141 greenhouse-gas permits have been issued,
about half for new facilities and half for the expansion
of existing ones,
according to the EPA.
The industries primarily affected by the requirements are
power plants, chemical facilities
, oil and gas project
s and cement plants,
according to the EPA. Companies that have applied for permits
include Calpine, ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum.