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Supreme Court continues skepticism of federal agency authority

Decided almost a year later under different statutory interpretation, the U.S. Supreme Court again questioned the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on June 28.

In the most recent case, the Supreme Court overturned its own 1984 finding, called the “Chevron Doctrine,” which had allowed EPA’s interpretation of environmental statue when Congress had not directly addressed the question.

While the recent findings do have some long-term administrative implications, more importantly it signals SCOTUS is willing to address potential agency (EPA) overreach, similar to the Court’s findings in 2023 when it struck down EPA’s interpretation of a navigable waterway (WOTUS) under Sackett, and in 2022 when the Court curbed EPA’s power to regulate carbon emissions. The continuation of the carbon emissions case was decided one day before the Chevron decision, whereby the Supreme Court blocked enforcement of EPA’s “good neighbor” pollution rule.

Interestingly, as NAPA reported last week, a Texas federal district court similarly enjoined revisions to the Department of Labor’s Davis-Bacon Act. Federal courts, it may be argued, are increasingly scrutinizing and preventing an agency’s statutory implementation when not explicitly spelled-out by Congress.

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