Supreme Court Decision on Corner Post Jeopardizes Environmental Protections

The SCOTUS ruling could delay challenges to harmful regulations


The Supreme Court’s decision today in favor of Corner Post, Inc., alters the statute of limitations for challenging agency actions, threatening the stability of the many rules that provide us with stable, effective protections from the unchecked power of corporations like polluting industries.

Before today, under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), when an agency issued a regulation, parties had 6 years to challenge it. After that, we could all rely on the regulation as settled, and depend on its protections. Now, the time to sue starts from when a challenger is first harmed by a rule, so all industry has to do is create a new corporation if it wants to challenge old rules. Even before this decision, corporations had flagged it as one that might allow them to challenge old regulations they would rather not comply with, and now, they’ve been proven right. The decision will sow chaos and undermine predictability and legal certainty. Even corporations are likely to regret asking the Court to take this step.

“The one-two punch of this decision and the Loper/Relentless decision is obvious,” said Earthjustice Senior Vice President of Program Sambhav Sankar. “As Justice Kagan presciently warned us last week: Agency decisions that weren’t even challenged before under Chevron will be now. That’s because corporations will look out at a sea of judges eager to strike down protective regulations and be emboldened to take a shot at challenging them.”

The U.S. Supreme Court building.
The U.S. Supreme Court. (Stefani Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)

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