Supreme Court Examines Biden’s Disputed ‘Good Neighbor’ Smog Policy

( – In March 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instituted its Good Neighbor Plan to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants and the like that affect the ozone layer. According to the plan, 23 states had to meet requirements set by the Clean Air Act to attain a smog level that would reduce their impact on downwind states by a set deadline. CNN Politics reported that several court cases stemmed from the policy, but none were able to block it — yet. Four cases have made their way up to the Supreme Court for consideration.


On December 20, SCOTUS agreed to hear cases from Republican-led states and other groups aiming to block the EPA measure. The request was for a stay of the rule, and oral arguments were set for February. During the dispute before the court on February 21, several conservative justices posited that the rule didn’t apply to 23 states, but only 11 because of lower court rulings in the other areas. Justice Brett Kavanaugh appeared to chastise the EPA for going ahead with the plan to push it in all 23 states regardless.

While he admitted downwind states had a right to be concerned about pollution pouring into them by those not complying with EPA clean air standards, the issue also affected “upwind states and the industry.” He described the issue all around as “major.”

The upwind states argued that the EPA didn’t have the right to go ahead and demand adherence to its requirements when a lower court decision ruled to stop the agency from doing so. The Biden Administration and some downwind states warned they were suffering from “dangerous ozone spikes” brought on by non-compliance in other states, which was hurting their residents — namely older people and kids.

Liberal SCOTUS justices reportedly wondered if the high court should grant a stay while there were still pending cases in the lower courts.

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According to the Associated Press, the EPA stated it was able to force an 18% drop in power-plant emissions in 2023 by demanding 10 states to comply with its rule. The implementation is on hold in 12 other states, pending litigation. Environmentalists reportedly said the EPA’s plan was life-saving for people who don’t even live near industrial plants.

The states against the plan argue that implementation would “destabilize [their] power grids” and possibly force power plants to shut down entirely in the future. SCOTUS has not officially ruled either way.

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