Casey Harper (The Center Square).
Temporarily, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated an environmental rule that speeds up pipeline development. It had been struck down by a lower court. The rule will be rewritten by President Joe Biden, though critics believe that this will eliminate any chance of addressing rising energy costs.
Louisiana v. American Rivers was ruled by 5-4. This temporarily allows the rule to be applied, which restricts the ability of states to block projects such as pipelines through the Clean Water Act.
The rule was enacted by President Donald Trump, but it was overturned in October by William Alsup of the United States District Court. The Supreme Court ruling overturns that judge’s ruling, but the Biden administration is expected to change the rule through the regulatory process rather than through the courts.
While the Biden Administration is currently working to develop a replacement policy, this rule is not likely to be in place by the end of 2012. Critics argue that it is bad news regarding energy prices, who have shot up in recent weeks.
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“The Supreme Court’s decision brings back the Trump administration’s Section 401 rule that helps to prevent states from blocking projects for whatever reason they desire,” said Daren Bakst, an energy expert at the Heritage Foundation. “Under the Clean Water Act, states can ensure that state water quality won’t be harmed by federally permitted activities. But some states have abused the law to block critical projects for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with water quality, from traffic noise to climate change.”
Bakst claimed that accelerating domestic oil production would provide relief for Americans who are struggling to pay high gasoline prices.
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“The Section 401 rule, if left untouched, would help get projects going again, including energy projects,” Bakst said. “As gas prices skyrocket, this rule would help to rein in the pain being felt by Americans at the pump, with the short-term benefit primarily coming from the important message the rule sends about unleashing domestic energy. Unfortunately, the Biden administration is planning to rewrite this rule and undo the benefits that the rule would provide.”
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Justice Elena Kagan claimed in her dissent, that the legal challenges to the Trump-era law’s recent court decision have failed prove real harm. It is likely to signal the beginning of the discussion among the justices if the judge agrees to hear the case. They will have to end the stay if they fail.
“By nonetheless granting relief, the Court goes astray,” Kagan wrote. “It provides a stay pending appeal, and thus signals its view of the merits, even though the applicants have failed to make the irreparable harm showing we have traditionally required.”
The Center Square permission granted this syndicated version.