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SCOTUS Hears Extraordinary Request to Block EPA’s New Smog Plan

The future of the Good Neighbor Plan is uncertain, with implications for public health and economic prosperity


Zahra Ahmad,, (517) 898-0924

The Supreme Court today heard “emergency relief” arguments on the Good Neighbor Plan, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule under the Clean Air Act, which requires upwind states to limit air pollution that travels across state lines for the benefit of people in states downwind. The Good Neighbor Plan will save thousands of lives, but the Supreme Court could delay or cost those health benefits if it blocks the plan pending lower court review.

The following is a statement from Earthjustice Senior Vice President Sam Sankar:

“The Supreme Court’s willingness to even entertain this extraordinary industry request shows how aggressively some right-wing Justices are pursuing a deregulatory agenda. If they block the EPA’s smog regulations before any lower court can even evaluate them, it will encourage companies to come straight to the Supreme Court any time a new government regulation threatens their profits, even if those profits come at the cost of people’s health and lives.”

The EPA proposed the Good Neighbor Plan in early 2023 after an Earthjustice lawsuit. This plan requires power plants, and other large polluters in upwind states, to reduce emissions that significantly increase levels of ground-level ozone in downwind states whose ozone levels don’t meet federal standards. Ozone is the main component of smog. After the D.C. Circuit refused to block the plan, Republican-led states, fossil fuel industry groups, and energy utilities filed “emergency” requests with the Supreme Court to block air pollution limits before lower courts could hear their legal challenges.

For years, Earthjustice and its clients have pushed the EPA to act on harmful cross-state ozone pollution. Clients include Air Alliance Houston, Appalachian Mountain Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Downwinders at Risk, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

Learn more about the Good Neighbor Plan.

Smoke billows from a series of smokestacks, obscuring the sun.
Ozone is a type of pollution formed from the exhaust of power plants, factories, cars and trucks. (Tatiana Grozetskaya / Shutterstock)

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Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.